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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

ESPN Rise High School Player of the Decade - Enzo Martinez

The ESPN RISE article can be found here.

Goal machine Martinez is decade's best

Updated: December 7, 2009, 4:19 PM ET


Enzo Martinez scored an amazing 182 goals in his high school career.

The ESPN RISE High School Soccer All-Decade Team is full of national and international professional players and most have a link to the U.S. Soccer men's national team.

So it might be surprising to learn that the ESPN RISE High School Boys' Soccer Player of the Decade is not one of them -- at least, not yet.

Enzo Martinez, a 2009 graduate of Northwestern (Rock Hill, S.C.), gets the nod as the Player of the Decade for his jaw-dropping high school career and fast start in the NCAA Division I ranks. In four years at Northwestern, Martinez guided the team to three state titles, one FAB 50 national title and finished with 182 goals, the sixth-highest in high school history.

Martinez's list of accomplishments includes being named the South Carolina player of the year all four years of high school and three times as the Gatorade State Player of the Year. He topped 50 goals in a season twice during his high school career while playing in the state's large school bracket against the best competition.

Known as a goalscorer his first three years, Martinez took on the added role of setup man his senior year. His goal total dropped from 50 as a junior to 39 as a senior, but the assists totals went up as he fed a pair of NCAA Division I-bound teammates and his team went on to post a 24-0-0 season.

Northwestern won the final 33 matches it played with Martinez on the roster, and the final went down as the greatest matchup in South Carolina history. Last year's Class 4A title pitted FAB 50 No. 1 Northwestern against No. 2 Irmo (Columbia, S.C.) in a match played before 8,000 people in Columbia. Martinez's final high school goal capped a 3-1 state final victory.

Even when the high school season ended, Martinez continued to win games in club soccer. His Discoveries SC club team went undefeated through state, region and national competition, ending with a US Youth Soccer under-18 national title in July. In total, Martinez played a significant role on teams that won 36 straight matches (high school and club) between February and July of 2009.

Following the club season, Martinez reported to the University of North Carolina and promptly helped the team to a 15-2-3 season, and the Tar Heels are still alive for an NCAA title. Martinez is the team's sixth-leading scorer and has played in every match as a true freshman. If North Carolina wins this year's College Cup, it will give Martinez a high school national title, a club national title and a college national title -- all in the window of six months.

One reason why Martinez is not more of a household name in the world of U.S. soccer is because he cannot wear the red, white and blue. Martinez is a native of Uruguay, and thus cannot compete as a member of the US Soccer program.

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