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Girls Soccer Player of the Year: Petroni helped build Buford into contenders
The Times Girls Soccer Player of the Year, Buford's Maria Petroni - photo by SARA GUEVARA

In the annals of athletics there have been great players.

More often than not, those all-area, all-american or all-pro players put their respective teams on the proverbial map.

Such is the case with Buford graduate, and The Times 2008 Girls Soccer Player of the Year, Maria Petroni.

"It’s been awesome," four-year Lady Wolves starter Petroni said. "I came here (Buford) and it was a very young program, I think it had been two years with a varsity program. When I got here, we’d never made it to the playoffs or anything."

Petroni and her teammates quickly took care of that leading the Lady Wolves to their first state playoff appearance in the program’s history during her sophomore season, and back-to-back state semifinals in her junior and senior seasons.

"This team and program has improved so much and it’s been cool just being part of that, being part of building a program." Petroni said.

Like the afore mentioned great players that put their respective teams on the proverbial map, Petroni wasn’t just part of the program but, instead, has served as the foundation of it for the last four years.

Over the course of her career, Petroni amassed 123 goals and 50 assists, both of which are school records.

She also holds the school record for goals in a year with 39 and assists in a year with 20.

"I’m not always the most talented one on the field," Petroni said. "But I always want to try and work harder than anyone else. I want to beat the girl I’m against everytime. I go out there trying to do the best I can do so i don’t walk off the field with any regrets. I always want to leave it all out there."

Petroni began playing soccer at the age of 10. She played rec for a few years and then began playing select soccer with the Atlanta Fire club team.

"For club soccer we play other states and I play with against girls who are going to be playing college soccer," Petroni said. "There’s a different level of coaching and it’s (playing club soccer) where you get your experience and refine your skills.

"All four seniors (Petroni, Justin Clay, Catherine Roadcap and Abby Leiker) played on club teams too so it kind of traveled over into high school."

Petroni will carry those, ‘refined skills,’ to Columbia, S.C. next year where she will play soccer for South Carolina.

To get herself prepared for soccer in the Southeastern Conference, Petroni, who graduated third in her class at Buford, has been lifting weights and running daily.

"We got a packet graduation week and it has something everyday of the summer to get us prepared for preseason which is the first week we get to school," Petroni said.

"Going into college they never guarantee you a spot, they’ve told me I have the potential to be an impact player and my goal as a freshman is to prove myself and get playing time."

As the future Lady Gamecock prepares for post-high school life, a life she is admittingly excited about, she looks back on her time at Buford and its ending as bittersweet.

"I loved high school," Petroni said, "and I loved the girls I played with. I think we had an awesome season and did a lot better than anyone thought we would do. It was sad the way it ended but I think we did well. It’s been a great four years."

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