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Edi Alvarado, TimesDaily boys high school soccer Athlete of the Year. [JIM HANNON/TIMESDAILY]

Florence's Edi Alvarado remembers playing soccer with his dad and uncle when he was a youngster. From that time on, the game has been a part of his life.

"It's just a passion," Alvarado said. "All of my family plays and my friends and my old friends. I just love it."

Alvarado helped his team advance to the state semifinals for the first time in school history. For his accomplishments, Alvarado is this year's TimesDaily Boys Soccer Player of the Year.

He and the other players of the year will be honored at a June 11 banquet at the Florence-Lauderdale Coliseum where the overall Male and Female Athletes of the Year will announced. Also, the top boys and girls programs will be announced at the same time.

Alvarado said his proudest accomplishment with his team was making it to the semifinals of the Class 7A playoffs.

"I didn't want to end my last season like the other season," Alvarado said.

Head coach Glenn Harscheid said Alvarado is constantly growing as a player and a leader.

Alvarado was chosen to play on the North All-Star team this past summer, and Harscheid said he saw Alvarado learn a lot from that team and use it to grow as a leader for the Falcons.

Alvarado scored 12 goals and finished with nine assists this season. His offensive balance was an integral part of Florence's success.

"That right there is a critical component for a good player, that it's not just all about him," Harscheid said.

Harscheid said Alvarado would go above what was required of him and was continually working outside of practice to improve.

"He just loves it and you can see that on the field when he plays," Harscheid said. "He plays with a lot of joy and a lot of passion. He gets upset sometimes like we all do, but that's part of a winner."

Alvarado began playing soccer at Florence in eighth grade and said he has a lot if fond memories on and off the field with his team.

"I look back and I see all of the good memories that I have playing with all of my teams, and it's kind of sad because I won't play again in high school," Alvarado said.

Harscheid said he has seen the impact Alvarado has had with the younger players. He noted Alvarado's impact on the program will be seen through those younger players.

"His fingerprints are all over the program, and you can't replace a player like that," Harscheid said.

Alvarado said after he graduates he plans to spend a few years working but does eventually want to play soccer either in college or professionally overseas.

Alvarado said even if it is just through playing recreationally with family members, soccer will always be a part of his life.

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