If you checked the TBO.com prep page this morning, you'll have noticed that Saturday was a really big day for local prep soccer. Two excellent private school games, and the start of the Wharton Invitational made for a very busy, but fascinating day.
First up, Land O' Lakes' Zach Higgins grabbed the Gators a late victory against Plant in a highly entertaining contest.
Plant was good, but as Coach Chris Carbon noted, the Panthers' inability to put away chances is something they have to work on if they are to first win Class 6A-8 and then make some inroads in the region tournament. With Countryside and Palm Harbor appearing the favorites to advance from 6A-7, the Panthers will have their hands full from the region quarterfinals on should they advance that far.
On the other hand, if Land O' Lakes is on its game, they are a match for anyone. If they advance from Pool C in this tournament, and I think they should with games remaining against King and Bloomingdale, the semifinal match-up against Sickles or Newsome could a a tremendous one for the neutral fan.
As for the district/region playoffs, Land O' Lakes quarterfinal against whichever side comes out of Class 5A-8, which could be anyone from Plant City, Newsome, East Bay or Durant, could be one of the best local games of the season.
Up next, Bob Bauman's 500th victory for Jesuit.
This is the Jesuit that needs to show up for the rest of the season. If that happens, they are a legitimate threat to win a state title in Class 4A. The question is if the side can maintain the focus. A Bauman himself noted, sometimes the Tigers make things more difficult than they should for themselves. Treat every opponent as they did CCC yesterday, and the Tigers should be at the University of Tampa.
Last, Tampa Catholic's stunning victory against Tampa Prep.
The difference between TC's Andrew Buckley before he scored and after was amazing. The moment he fired the Crusaders into the lead, you could see the weight lift off his shoulders, indicated further by his second goal two minutes later. If they face Berkeley in the Class 3A-10 final two weeks from now, that is going to be a must-see.
As for the Terrapins, don't dismiss them yet. Yes, there are issues with Tampa Prep right now, and the lack of goals is a big concern, but I believe that with the way the side is working right now, it is going to come for them. You get the impression that when the playoffs start, Anthony Baumann is going to put this team on his shoulders and will them to victory, and when he raises his game, which is already at a very high level, Wes Sever and Aaron Burrell are going to feast.