By RODNEY PAGE
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 5, 2001
When the final whistle sounded, ending 80 minutes of soccer and four years of memories, Michelle Mione fell to the ground in a heap.
After nearly 100 games with Osceola, after all of the bumps, bruises and torn ligaments, after all of the goals, Mione's career was over.
She ended her senior season with 57 goals. In four seasons, Mione scored 165 goals, and it easily could have been more had a knee injury not forced her to miss the last two months of her sophomore season.
But on this February night in the Class 2A, District 11 semifinal against Tarpon Springs, all Mione could think about was never being able to put on the Osceola jersey again.
"I thought, 'Oh my God, this is the last high school game I'll ever play,"' Mione said. "When the whistle sounded, I fell to the ground and just cried."
Opponents likely are smiling at the prospect of not having to face Mione anymore. She made an immediate impact as a freshman, scoring 31 goals as a midfielder. She came back from the torn ligaments in her right knee to score 47 goals as a junior.
Mione's senior season was the only time the Warriors failed to advance past the district tournament. In 2000, Osceola played in the Class 2A state final against Gulf Breeze, losing 5-0.
Mione was the Times Pinellas County Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. Now she is the first All-Suncoast Player of the Year.
"We're going to miss her leadership more than anything else," Osceola coach Ernie Whalen said. "We had nine games this season where we had only 11 (healthy) players, so that put a lot of pressure on her. To do what she did was pretty impressive."
Mione's most impressive performance came in the first round of the Pinellas County Athletic Conference tournament against Lakewood. Mione faced double and triple teams but still had three goals and two assists in a 6-5 overtime win. Two of the goals came on perfectly placed free kicks.
"That was definitely a highlight," Mione said. "That and playing in the state tournament are things that I'll never forget."
Mione, who also plays for the Clearwater Chargers club team, will play at Auburn next season. She plans to pursue a degree in journalism.
Soccer always has played a big role in her life. She used to try to keep up with her brother, Tony, in neighborhood pickup games. Tony, who is two years older, used to play for Osceola. Michelle tagged along and sat on the bench at the girls games, waiting until she could put on the jersey.
Mione said she hopes to wear a jersey for as long as she can.
"Soccer's been a big part of my life," Mione said. "I hope to still be playing 10 years from now."
A Warrior in every respect (March 18, 2001)
Mione adds skill with toughness (March 12, 2000)
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Michelle Mione, Osceola
(Player, Yr, School, Comment)
F Devon SiboleSr. Palm Harbor U.Played more of a defensive role.
F Amy Bowen Sr. Citrus 32 goals and 16 assists led Citrus County.
F Shawna Kramer Sr. East Bay 16 goals and 13 assists for Indians.
F Kim Martins Sr. Bloomingdale Big player in big games.
M Gabby FarkasfalvyJr. Palm Harbor U.Had more than 50 goals.
M Michelle Mione Sr. Osceola Scored 57 goals to end career with 165.
M Tara Escribano Sr. Bloomingdale Came up big in Bulls' state title run.
M Amber Presnick So. Citrus Had 29 goals and 18 assists.
M Stacy Bishop So. Land O'Lakes Had 39 goals and 27 assists.
D Lyndi Bernhisel Sr. Bloomingdale Led best defense in Bay area.
D Nikki Castro Jr. Zephyrhills Anchor of the Bulldogs' defense.
G Stephanie Fowler Sr. Brandon Athletic player with good skills.
F Brandi Herrmann Sr. Seminole Warhawks' top scorer past two seasons.
F Alyse Migliaro So. East Bay Stepped up for Class 2A state runners-up.
F Becky Ware So. King Had 65 points for Lions.
F Casie Poyssick So. Land O'Lakes Had 43 goals to lead Gators.
M Sarah McGonegal Sr. Palm Harbor U. Four-year starter for Hurricanes.
M Lisa Karcinski Sr. River Ridge Explosive player, gets goals and assists.
M Amie Farrell Sr. Springstead Led Hernando County with 17 goals.
M Reagan Jones Sr. Hillsborough Will play at Notre Dame next season.
D Tara Eugenides So. Land O'Lakes Aggressive defender wins lots of balls.
D Pam Szott Sr. Palm Harbor U. Tough defender.
D Beth Outlaw Jr. Durant Never backs down.
G Shannon Aitken Fr. Land O'Lakes 29 games, 24 goals allowed.
Central -- Kelly Lubosco; CC Catholic -- Nicole Matuska, Jessica Hallgren; Citrus -- Whitney Gelin, Courtenay Gelin, Danialle Coates; Countryside -- Stephanie Freeman; Land O'Lakes -- Jessica Reynolds; Lakewood -- Jenny Borschel; Largo -- Erika Johnson; Lecanto -- Trisha Chenoweth, Amber Gidden; King -- Jessica Bell; Mitchell -- Kate Slaughter; Palm Harbor U. -- Pam Szott; Plant -- Janessa Taddei; St. Petersburg -- Brittney Lewis; Springstead -- Cyndee Cason, Chrissi Tapia; River Ridge -- Lindsey Jones; Wesley Chapel -- Sara Harrison; Zephyrhills -- Joslyn Willis.