All-News4JAX boys soccer: Hard work powered Antonio Mancinotti to be the best

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Antonio Mancinotti remembers a time not too long ago when he wasn’t close to being the best player on his own team, let alone in the area.

Times have changed.

The Mandarin senior forward wasn’t just the best player on his team, but the All-News4JAX player of the year was mentioned among the best in the state. Mancinotti was voted as the Class 7A player of the year and finished runner-up in voting for the statewide Mr. Soccer award.

How did a player who was a bit undersized growing up earn a starting spot on the Mustangs as a freshman and never look back? Mancinotti said he found out early in the sport that no one would outwork him. He took that feverish work ethic from his younger years, applied it to high school and still talks about that today.

“I know this is generic, but when people say hard work beats talent, it’s very true. Thing is, I wasn’t really that talented when I was smaller, you know, Obviously, I got better and better. I started working very hard. And then I started getting better and better gradually.”

Mancinotti’s career started with a bang and kept right on going.

The first game of his high school career began with a hat trick. He added two more goals the following game. That was the prelude to a four-year barrage for Mancinotti, who helped Mandarin to 68 wins during his career. He had 29 goals and 19 assists this season. Mandarin was the wire-to-wire top-ranked team in the News4JAX Super 6 all season.

They won three consecutive Gateway Conference titles. And Mancinotti was the headliner the whole time.

“There was a lot of brotherhood, because without the brotherhood of being connected with these people, I mean, we couldn’t make a single pass,” he said. “And it comes with communication, communicating with each other.”

He often made it look easy. Part of that was due to confidence, the other part talent. Mancinotti said that the hundreds and hundreds of hours spent practicing dribbling or blasting shots into an empty net helped him hone his skills. The next step will be a big one. Mancinotti said that he’s optimistic of heading into the professional soccer circuit after graduation. The one thing missing from a sterling career — a state title. Mancinotti said that his biggest void is that of a championship. The Mustangs were upset in the first round of the state playoffs in his final season.

“I got the stats for myself all the years, but the thing I would rather have more than stats is a state title,” he said. “That’s what I wanted, the state ring for my teammates and myself.”

All-News4JAX boys soccer team

First team

Pos., Player, School, Class, Notable

F Sebastian Joinville, Yulee, Sr.

Led Hornets to best season in program history in run to the Class 4A state semifinals.

F Matthew Male, Fleming Island, Sr.

Big-time scorer for Golden Eagles. Two coaches listed him as the area’s best. Had 22 goals, 10 assists.

F Antonio Mancinotti, Mandarin, Sr.

All-News4JAX player of the year led the area’s best team. Had 29 goals, 19 assists in superb final season. Two-time All-News4JAX first-team selection. Class 7A player of the year. Runner-up for Mr. Soccer.

F Zion Wise, Englewood, Sr.

Received multiple votes as area’s top player on Gateway Conference runner-up. Had 19 goals, 17 assists for Rams.

MF Dimani Mathlin, Bartram Trail, Sr.

Second-team All-News4JAX selection last year and powered one of the area’s best offenses.

MF Adis Mesic, Mandarin, Sr.

An excellent distributor and a lethal scorer for Gateway Conference champs. Had 28 assists, 23 goals. Second-team All-News4JAX selection last year.

MF Will Morales, Bolles, Sr.

Played forward, too. Helped lead Bulldogs to Class 3A state semifinals. Had 11 goals, 11 assists.

MF Luke Williams, Bartram Trail, Sr.

Second-team All-News4JAX selection last year and another integral part of crisp Bears midfield.

D Bruno Alves, Creekside, Sr.

Tough defender for the Knights. Scored four goals, added two assists for 15-4-1 Creekside.

D Kristian Palenik, Mandarin, Sr.

Anchor of a Mustangs’ defense that allowed just 15 goals all season. Scored a goal, but a big time possession eraser (41 steals).

D Christopher Dickey, Atlantic Coast, Sr.

Several coaches mentioned just how diffiocult of a player he was to get past for the Stingrays.

GK Ridge Cullen, Providence, Jr.

Posted 9 shutouts, 0.995 goals against average for 11-3-3 Stallions.

Second team

Pos., Player, School, Class, Notable

F Drew Ammon, Oakleaf, Sr.: Did everything for the Knights (12 goals, 10 assists).

F Jesus Cruz, Crescent City, Sr.: Area scoring leader had 41 goals, 16 assists for Raiders team that went 15-4-4.

F Joseph Jimenez, Bishop Kenny, Sr.: Had 17 goals, 13 assists for 14-4-3 Crusaders.

F Akindele May-Parker, Oakleaf, Sr.: Led Knights to playoffs. Had 13 goals, 4 assists.

F Mark Romano, Ponte Vedra, Sr.: Scoring leader for the Sharks (10 goals, 4 assists).

MF Ronald Daragjati, Creekside, Sr.: Led the Knights with 13 goals, 3 assists.

MF Brogan Donnelly, Nease, Sr.: Had 8 goals, 5 assists for 9-4-4 Panthers.

MF Andres Villasana, Ponte Vedra, Sr.: Second on the Sharks in offense (9 goals, 3 assists).

D Casey Cupit, Bartram Trail, Sr.: Could play multiple sports on defense for the Bears.

D Ngun Hu, Englewood, Sr.: Integral defender on Gateway Conference runner-up program.

D Will Manaute, Menendez, Jr.: Had 7 goals and an assist for the Falcons.

GK Gunnar Lanham, Creekside, Sr.: Big presence in net for the Knights. Had a 0.56 goals against average for 15-4-1 Creekside.

Honorable mention

MF Ashton Ashchi, Bolles, Sr.; D/MF Chimelu Blandin, Sandalwood, Sr.; F Bodie Brafford, St. Johns Country Day, Fr.; F/MF Daniel Calvo, Bartram Trail, Sr.; MF Ryan Chacon, Nease, Jr.; MF Christian Denegri, Creekside, Jr.; D Donald Downer, Bolles, Sr.; MF Sanders Dunn, Bolles, Sr.; GK Brogan Early, Bartram Trail, Jr.; GK Peyton French, Fleming Island, Sr.; GK Sam Galloza, St Augustine, Sr.; D Tyler Ghazanfari, Nease, So.; F Almir Hamzagic, Atlantic Coast, Sr.; MF Chan Hrin, Wolfson, Sr.; F Chad Jaynes, Yulee, Sr.; F William Kennedy, Fleming Island, Sr.; GK Brayden Knox, Mandarin, Sr.; MF Hunter Kratochvil, Yulee, Jr.; MF Ben Lankford, Creekside, Sr.; MF Sasha Maric, Mandarin, Jr.; D Liam McDonald, Ridgeview, Sr.; F Khiende May-Parker, Oakleaf, So.; MF Juan Jaimes-Otalvaro, Englewood, Sr.; D William Osgathorpe, Providence, Jr.; D Stone Perry, Ridgeview, Sr.; D Yoel Piperno, Bolles, Sr.; F Grayson Ronk, Flagler Palm Coast, Sr.; MF Patrick Russell, Bishop Kenny, Sr.; D Nick Sciartelli, Clay, Sr.; G Braiden Shiver, Yulee, Jr; GK Chance Skinner, Stanton, Sr.; F Darek Szarek, Beachside, Jr.; D Gordon Whitcomb, Wolfson, Jr.

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.