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Girls soccer Athlete of the Year

Lucy a part of four straight Naples championships

Isabella Lucy of Naples gets a shot off against AFNORTH's Sarah Phillips at the DODDS-Europe soccer championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany, Thursday, May 22, 2014. Naples won 2-0 to defend their title. Grace Phillips, right, watches the action. Lucy has been selected as the Stars and Stripes Athlete of the Year for girls soccer.

It’s impossible to separate the substantial individual talents of Naples senior Isabella Lucy from the perennial excellence of her Wildcat teams.

That’s because Lucy’s primary talent is being a teammate.

“Isabella is the epitome of a team player, in my opinion,” Naples coach Rebecca Lucy said.

Rebecca Lucy is Isabella’s mother as well as her coach, so her opinion is necessarily subjective. But more objective evidence tells a similar tale.

Lucy started her career as a promising freshman addition to a reigning Division II DOODS-Europe championship team led by dynamic forward Alex Mack, teaming with Mack to secure the second and third titles of the Wildcats’ current reign.

When the senior departed for Liberty University, Lucy transitioned into Mack’s former role as the squad’s experienced leader and team captain, nurturing the prodigal scoring gifts of new freshman Tyler Treat and guiding the program to a fourth and fifth titles.

Over the course of her career, Lucy’s game adapted to fit her team’s needs. A self-described “finesse” player on a similarly-minded Wildcat side, Lucy still gamely traded plenty of elbows with a ruggedly physical AFNORTH program that emerged as a worthy antagonist to the Naples dynasty. When allotted space on the wing, however, Lucy explored her many options, looping cross kicks to ready teammates like Treat and Jill Thurston or sending sharp shots on goal.

“She’s a game-changer,” Rebecca Lucy said. “You put her in and she changes the game.”

Lucy’s career has certainly been charmed by her alignment with stars like Mack and Treat, along with the many other impact players who have donned Wildcat green in her four-year tenure. But those stars are equally lucky to have played with her.

“We get each other. I know what she’s going to do, she knows what I’m going to do. We just work well together,” Treat said. “We can think in advance for each other.”

Such comments from teammates are the highest praise possible for a player like Lucy, for whom individual glory is indistinguisable from team success. In that regard, the Wildcats’ May 22 defeat of AFNORTH in the Division II European championship game, a win that delivered Naples’ fifth straight title and Lucy’s fourth in as many high-school seasons, is all the validation necessary.

“I had so much confidence in my team. I knew that no matter how we played it would be a great season,” Lucy said. “But the fact that I’ve been on a championship-winning team four years in a row, it’s such an exhilirating feeling. I can’t even describe it.”

Having won every team and individual accolade available to a DODDS-Europe soccer player - a list that now includes the 2014 Stars and Stripes girl soccer Athlete of the Year award - Lucy is headed off for fresh challenges.

Lucy will enroll this fall at American University in Washington, D.C., the first time she’ll live in the United States after spending her childhood in Germany, South Korea and Italy. She declined athletic scholarship offers from several NCAA schools to accept an academic grant to study foreign language and communication media in the nation’s capital.

Her soccer career, however, isn’t necessarily over. Lucy has arranged a tryout with the school’s NCAA Division I women’s soccer team when she arrives at American in August.

Though she’s grown accustomed to success, Lucy is simply hoping for the best.

“Who knows, it’s D-1,” Isabella Lucy said. “Anything can happen.”

If the past four years are any indication, good things likely will.

broome.gregory@stripes.com

Twitter: @broomestripes

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