Palmetto's Gregorio Calvillo repeats as Herald All-Area Boys Soccer Player of the Year

jdill@bradenton.comApril 18, 2014 

After lighting up the scoreboard as a junior, Gregorio Calvillo entered last winter's boys soccer season with a target on his back.

So how did the Palmetto forward follow up a program-record 43 goals?

By doing his best Cristiano Ronaldo/Lionel Messi impersonation and racking up 48 goals to reset the Tigers' standard.

In the process, he led Palmetto to its sixth consecutive district championship and a berth in the region semifinals.

It's why he was a no-brainer to be selected as the Bradenton Herald All-Area Boys Soccer Player of the Year for a second straight year.

"It's a blessing," Calvillo said. "It's kind of overwhelming. I wasn't expecting to get it again this year. ... It usually doesn't happen (two straight years)."

For Calvillo to continue his success, he had to make improvements as he was no longer an unknown quantity around Manatee County.

So the senior forward worked on foot speed, overall strength and some additional moves with the ball to make himself a more complete player.

And those changes worked, which is why he garnered so many goals for a second consecutive season. It's also why he'll head to Eastern Florida State in Melbourne next year to continue his soccer career.

"He was faster this year," Palmetto head coach Dustin Dahlquist said. "He developed a couple additional moves. The velocity on his shots, the accuracy on his shots were all work that he put in over the course of a year. ... I just think he had a little bit better ball control. His head fakes and his ability to change direction more quickly, he steps over, the release of his shot - all of those things combined with

his motor. He has a motor that doesn't quit. He's always trying to score more goals."

As a junior, Calvillo often teamed with older brother Pedro to provide a scorching one-two punch in attack.

This past season, he didn't have Pedro to lean on after he brother graduated.

But it didn't matter, because Gregorio had several "brothers" on the team already. The supporting cast of players such as Hunter Brown, Tyler Lawrence, Usiel Martinez and Javis Paniagua formed a dominant team that allowed Calvillo to flourish once more. .

"I wouldn't call them teammates," Calvillo said. "I would call them brothers. I've known those kids forever. Playing with them, we just understand each other."

As a youth, Calvillo said all he wanted to do was play for Palmetto High. After four years with the soccer team, a state semifinal appearance and several district titles in tow, Calvillo left his own imprint on the program by setting program records for goals scored two years in a row.

"Going there and trying my best and doing whatever I could do to make the program better, I think it just made me a stronger person," Calvillo said.

Calvillo views top-class goal scorers like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ronaldo and Messi to try emulating a bit from each in his approach to the position.

With Ibra, he took the strength factor to knock people off the ball. With Ronaldo, he took the flashy skills. And with Messi, he took away the blazing speed.

"I try to mix it in a little bit, and (Ronaldo) has a hard shot," Calvillo said. "Zlatan is super strong. ... And Messi has quick feet and can maneuver away."

Anyway you add it up, nearly 100 goals in two seasons is mighty impressive.

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