Miami Beach’s Gianluca Calabrese is Miami-Dade Boys’ Soccer Player of the Year for 7A-5A

Gianluca Calabrese had never played the all-important central attacking midfielder position until Edgar Botto asked him to give it a shot after one of Miami Beach’s early losses last season. After a lifetime spent playing on the wing, Calabrese wasn’t sure how the move would go.

Any of his doubts quickly vanished, though. The midfielder scored the first goal in his first game at his new position and the move reignited his season, letting him finish strong and become the Miami Herald’s Miami-Dade County Boys’ Soccer Player of the Year for Classes 7A-5A.

“The transition at first was ... a big transition for me,” Calabrese said, “but with confidence and with playing with the team, and listening to my coach, and just trying to grasp as much knowledge and information of the position I started adjusting to it.”

The senior finished with 16 goals and 13 assists, and the Hi-Tides won 10 in a row and three trophies after moving Calabrese from the left midfield to the middle.

The goals and assists were both 10 more than he had last year when he started fast, but tailed off as the season progressed.

Miami Beach’s Gianluca Calabrese is the Miami Herald’s Boys’ Soccer Class 7A-5A Player of the Year.
Miami Beach’s Gianluca Calabrese is the Miami Herald’s Boys’ Soccer Class 7A-5A Player of the Year.

“We made some adjustments in the middle of the season,” coach Edgar Botto said. “He started hot on the left, but it was starting to be like last year. Nothing’s happening, we need someone and we had an injury, and we had to put him there and he did great.”

During its 10-game winning streak, Miami Beach won the Tampa Bay Invitational, its first Greater Miami Athletic Conference championship since 1999 and a District 16-6A title. The Hi-Tides’ 16 wins were the second most in Miami-Dade and they finished the year as the highest ranked public school team in the county, according to MaxPreps.

Calabrese had nine goals and seven assists after changing positions. The move did exactly what Miami Beach hoped it would and let the senior become the focal point of everything the Hi-Tides did on offense.

“Pretty much, I felt like I could dictate the game,” Calabrese said.

His play also caught the eye of college coaches, and Calabrese now holds scholarship offers from Northeastern and Division II Barry University in Miami Shores.

“He was consistent throughout the year, he was all over the field,” Botto said. “He was a complete player, he did everything.”