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File / The Herald Maicol Torres (9) recorded four hat tricks and 35 total goals in 21 matches this season.

Prior to the 2018 season, Maicol Torres was deemed ineligible to play due to a class scheduling issue during his junior year. The setback did not stop Torres from working during the offseason and his return provided a huge boost to the Stanhope Elmore’s attack.

“That was a big motivation for us,” Stanhope coach Johanna Angelo said. “We lost two really good players last year and one of them was our top striker. He really had to replace the production of two starting captains. It was a lot of pressure for him I think but he handled it really well.”

Torres, a Honduran striker, a midfielder for the Mustangs and the Elmore County Boys Soccer Player of the Year, did not crack under pressure and came out of the gate firing early in the season. Stanhope started the season unbeaten in eight matches with Torres leading the attack the whole way.

The Mustangs averaged 2.5 goals per game during that span and Torres either scored and assisted on 18 of the 20 total goals. He had his first hat trick of the season in a 6-0 win over Wetumpka to open section play.

Torres continued his strong form throughout the season and finished as the Mustangs’ leading goal scorer. He recorded 35 goals in 21 matches, including four hat tricks during section games.

While being the leader on the goal sheet, Angelo said Torres felt he was more naturally suited for the midfield. He showed that with his passing ability, assisting on 15 goals throughout the season.

“He was never selfish with the ball,” Angelo said. “He really wanted to play central midfield instead of striker so he was always looking for someone to pass to.”

Stanhope often thrived off the play of Torres on its way to another 15-win season in 2019. He finished the season with a hand in 50 of the team’s 56 goals including several goals crucial to the outcomes.

In four section matches, Torres scored 13 goals and assisted on five more while the Mustangs outscored their opponents 19-1. He also scored goals in wins over Pelham, Benjamin Russell and Prattville.

“I think he had the ability to rally the rest of the team through his play,” Angelo said. “Watching him play like that and do the things he could do made everyone want to respond.”

Torres was one of 13 seniors on Stanhope’s team this season and clearly left a lasting impact on the program. Even after missing his junior year, Torres was a part of 47 victories at the high school level. 

Despite a disappointing early exit from the postseason this year, Torres clearly left an impact on his opponents throughout the season. He was named as a second-team midfielder in the All-State boys soccer team which is voted on by coaches across the state.

“He really is just a joy to watch when he’s playing hard,” Angelo said. “He’d be the guy who other kids would come to me talking about the next day. I’d have basketball players come into class talking about what he did in the game the night before.”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.