To hear Michela Paradiso talk, she sounds like the reluctant superstar.
The sophomore forward of the Upper Arlington High School girls soccer team has grown accustomed to awards, but the ultimate reward would've been winning a state championship with her teammates.
"I don't picture myself as different from anyone else on the team and our goal was to win it all," the Captain of the ThisWeek Super 12 team said. "It's nice to be recognized with awards, but the loss in the tournament was really disappointing because we really thought we had a shot at winning it."
The Golden Bears finished 17-2-2 overall after losing to Dublin Coffman 2-1 in a Division I regional final Nov. 7.
Paradiso, who also was last season's Captain, scored the only goal for UA, which led 1-0 at half.
Not only did Paradiso score 26 of the team's 71 goals, she opened the door for others on offense as opponents often put two or three defenders around her.
"She stayed really strong in the face of opponents marking her," first-year coach Mark Wise said. "I was just thinking the other day what kind of pressure she faced. She's expected to carry the game, and she does it so well."
Paradiso had 25 goals last year and has never wavered from the team concept. She scored a career-best five goals in a 6-0 win over Pickerington Central on Oct. 3.
"It's difficult always having somebody by you, but luckily I have great teammates to pass the ball to," Paradiso said. "We really worked on using me to stretch the field. I was part of our strategy."
That strategy helped UA, which won the OCC-Central at 5-0, capture a district championship when it defeated DeSales 1-0.
Paradiso again was the OCC-Central Player of the Year, first-team all-Ohio and first-team all-district.
These days, Paradiso is focused on basketball, but over the Thanksgiving weekend she'll travel to Florida to compete in tryouts for the Olympic Development Program. She played for the regional team last year.
Past captains included Pickerington North's Tahnai Annis (2006, 2007) and Molly Cornwell (2005); Dublin Coffman's Kelly Quinn (2003, 2004); Bexley's Megan Brake (2002); and DeSales' Ashley Schillig (2001) and Tesia Kozlowski (1999, 2000).
Michela Paradiso scored 26 goals in leading Upper Arlington to a 17-2-2 record.