Sunday, January 31, 2010

Long Tan latest signing by FC Tampa Bay

FC Tampa Bay Owner and President Andrew Nestor has confirmed that the club has signed 21-year-old Chinese forward Long Tan.

According to an online report, Tan had taken part in open tryouts for MLS’s Philadelphia Union, but did not get called back after the first round of workouts.

Tan played last summer for the USL’s Atlanta Blackhawks in the Premier Development League, scoring seven goals in 12 games for the club. He had previously played for Shanghai’s Pudong Zobon in the Chinese First Division, and according to the Blackhawks website, scored six goals in 16 games for the club in the 2008.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Preps: Sickles leads way on Wharton Invitational All-Tournament team

Sickles led the way with three players named to the Wharton Invitational All-Tournament team, defender Gil Davis and midfielders Matt Brown and Boris Simeunovic all being named when the list was released on Friday.

Brown scored both goals in the Gryphons 2-0 semifinal victory against King, and added an assist in the final against East Bay, while Davis led a defense that conceded only one goal in five games over the tournament.

Finalist East Bay and King each had a pair of players named, David Castillo and Miguel Cerveleon being honored for the Indians and Jacob Baker and Christopher Lewis honored for the Lions.

The full team is listed below:

Keenan Kushner, Wharton
Gil Davis, Sickles
Jacob Baker, King
Christopher Lewis, King
David Castillo, East Bay
Boris Simeunovic, Sickles
Joey Perfetto, Newsome
Matt Brown, Sickles
Miguel Cerveleon, East Bay
Kofi Forkuoh, Hillsborough
Esgar Montelongo, Plant City

Preps: Plant shakes region hex, will face Palm Harbor

It took overtime, but Plant's run of disappointment in the region playoffs is over.

The Panthers girls advanced to the Class 6A-Region 2 semifinals last night, a header by Amy Werdine in overtime from and Ellen Moore corner kick giving them a 1-0 victory against. Countryside.

The St. Petersburg Times' Eduardo A. Encina was at the game, with both Werdine and Plant coach Steve McGill expressing their relief at finally making it through.

The Panthers' opponent on Tuesday, Palm Harbor University, also needed overtime to get past Bloomingdale, Catherine Brinkman giving the Hurricanes victory. The Times' Bryan Burns writes that the Hurricanes thought they got their toughest test this season from the Bulls.

Not every game was as thrilling as the area's two 6A quarterfinals. Newsome, for example, trounced Ocala Forest 7-0 as Liz Haumschild had a pair of goals and three assists for the Wolves in Class 5A-Region 2. The Wolves will get a rematch with district rival East Bay in the semifinals, Delaney Poli scoring the only goal in a 1-0 victory against Springstead.

Freedom had as little trouble advancing into the Class 5A-Region 3 semifinals as they had winning the district title last Friday, The Times' Joey Knight writes, dispatching Manatee 5-0. The Patriots will now face Venice, who were held at bay for a half by Hillsborough goalkeeper Amber Davis before earning a 4-1 victory behind Kelly White's second half hat trick.

In the other half of that region, East Lake and Seminole will again face off after the Eagles defeated Largo 1-0 and the Warhawks routed Northeast 9-0.

Steinbrenner remained undefeated, but was made to work for its 4-2 win against Palmetto after the Tigers rallied back from a 3-0 deficit before CiCi Gonzalez put the game away with her 30th goal of the season, writes The Times' John C. Cotey. The Warriors will face another undefeated side in the region semifinals, as Lakewood Ranch blasted Robinson 9-1.

There were another pair of routs in Class 3A-Region 3 as Berkeley Prep needed just one half to defeat Frostproof 8-0, while Clearwater Central Catholic set up a district final rematch with a 9-1 win on the road at Lakeland McKeel.

Colby Maffei recorded another hat trick, giving her 44 goals for the season, as the Terrapins defeated Shorecrest Prep 3-0. The Terrapins will face Bradenton St. Stephen's in the semifinals after the Falcons defeated Indian Rocks Christian 5-1. St. Stephen's won 2-1 when the two sides met in the regular season.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A look at the Rowdies new signings

Not familiar with some of the names announced by the FC Tampa Bay Rowdies at their press conference on Wednesday? Here’s a look at the 13 players signed so far by the Rowdies.

Jason Beardsley, defender – The 20-year-old Englishman is a product of the Derby County youth system, but saw more playing time for Notts County, where he spent the 2008-09 season on loan, making 11 appearances in the league two in the League Cup.

Jeremy Christie, midfielder – An experienced international, Christie has made 20 appearances for the New Zealand national team, and is expected to be named to the country’s World Cup squad. Previously a captain of the New Zealand Under-17 team, Christie began his professional career in England with Barnsley. He then returned home to play in New Zealand, playing for two stints with the Australian A-League’s Wellington Phoenix in addition to a spell with the Perth Glory.

Adam Nowland, midfielder – Nowland made his professional debut aged 17 for Blackpool, and since then the 28-year-old has played for a number of English clubs. The most prominent of those was West Ham, with whom he spent just under a year before a 250,000 pound transfer to Nottingham Forest. He returned to Blackpool last summer on a non-contract basis, but was not retained by the club.

Kwame Adjeman-Pamboe, forward – A former second-round pick of the Colorado Rapids in 2008, the former George Mason standout most recently played for FC Viikingit in the Finnish First Division where he scored four goals in nine games. With the Patriots, he scored nine goals and added seven assists in his senior season, earning All-Colonial Athletic Association First Team honors.

Dwight Barnett, forward – A third-round pick of the Chicago Fire in the 2008 draft, Barnett had a goal and two assists for the Montreal Impact in the USL First Division in 2008. He also previously played for the USL PDL’s Cape Cod Crusaders while in college, scoring 24 goals in 34 games for the club that as the Portland Phoenix will be a reserve team for the Rowdies.

Scott Buete, defender – A University of Maryland grad, Buete has experience at the MLS and USL Division 1 level, playing last season for the Charleston Battery where he scored three goals in 28 appearances. Buete began his career with the Chicago Fire, spending two seasons there, before signing with USL-1’s Atlanta Silverbacks for the 2006 season. Buete has also played in the MISL, since 2007 with the Baltimore Blast.

Yendry Diaz, defender – A former Cuban under-23 international, Diaz is maybe best known for his defection in Tampa during the 2008 North American Olympic Qualifying Tournament. The 22-year-old Diaz played last year for the Real Maryland Monarchs in the USL Division 2, making 10 appearances.

Joe Donoho, defender – A Tampa native, Donoho was the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year in 2007 while at Bradley. At 6-foot-3, Donoho was a strong presence at center back in both of the Rowdies’ Tampa combines. A graduate of Jesuit, Donoho actually chose to play basketball for the Tigers, developing his soccer skills with the Tampa Kickers club (now RSL Florida).

Mozesh Gyorio, midfielder – A former Canadian under-20 international, Gyorio was born in Backatopola, Serbia before his parents moved to Prince Edward Island, Canada. Professionally, Gyorio previously spent time in Holland with NEC Nijmegan.

Aaron King, forward – A 2005 NSCAA Second-team All-American, the bulk of King’s professional career has been with the USL-1 Charleston Battery, with whom he scored 11 goals in 51 games over the 2007-08 seasons. After moving to the Carolina Railhawks for the 2009 season, King scored three goals in five games after a free transfer to Miami FC last season.

Pascal Milien, forward – A two-time Division II All-American at the University of Tampa, Milien led the Spartans with 12 goals and seven assists in 21 games as a senior. A native of Haiti, Milien moved to Auburndale when he was 15 and led the Bloodhounds to a state title in 2005.

John Raus, midfielder – A right-winger, Raus led Seton Hall with nine goals and eight assists in his senior season before beginning his professional career with Poland’s LKS Lomza, a second division side. More recently, Raus played for Fisher Athletic, a Blue Square South side in England, where he had six goals in 28 appearances.

Graham Tatters, defender – A native of Scotland, Tatters played college soccer for the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, redshirting his sophomore year when he was diagnosed with lymphoma before making a full recovery, detailed here by the Wilmington Star News. He turned professional last year with the Wilmington Hammerheads of the USL Second Division, making 13 appearances.

Preps: Heaberlin's absence doesn't faze Berkeley girls

TAMPA – For some teams , losing a U.S. Under-17 International at what may be the most critical position on the field would be a devastating blow.

But Berkeley Prep’s girls soccer team is undaunted by the absence of Bryane Heaberlin, who is in Miami to train with the national team, because in back-up Morgan Orobello they feel they have a goalkeeper who is more than up to the task of helping them get to the state final four.

“Morgan was with us last year, and played five games for us,” Buccaneers coach Ken Roberts said. “And four of them were ranked teams. This year, she played three matches, and it was St. Pete Catholic, a 1-0 win, and Tampa Prep the first time around, a 1-0 win, so Morgan has the ability to keep us in a game just as much as Bryane does.”

The Buccaneers open the Class 3A-Region 3 tournament tonight against Frostproof at 7 p.m., and while Orobello said she was a little nervous after Wednesday’s practice, she believes she can get the job done for the side.

“I feel like (my teammates) think I can do it,” Orobello said. “I feel like I know I can do it.”

Of course, having players like sweeper N.D. Ubezonu, and defenders Taylor Richardson, Anne Kelly and Brooke Banning in front of her won’t hurt, Roberts adding that the side wouldn’t change anything as far as their approach to the game.

“We still expect to play the ball back to (Orobello’s) feet, she’s strong with her feet,” Roberts said. “We’ll keep everything status quo. We’re more worried in going into the playoff games about us, about how we play and playing our style than we are about what our opponents are going to do. If anybody thinks they’re going to get an opportunity on her, they’ve got to get by the whole team before they get to her.

“It’s a team game. It’s a team game on defense just like it’s a team game on offense. One kid doesn’t do it all, and one kid can’t do it all once you get to this point in the season.”

Rowdies Stadium to be built downtown?

Veteran Tampa Tribune and now columnist Tom McEwan got some very interesting comments from FC Tampa Bay Rowdies owner David Laxer, who also owns the renowned Berns Steak House, in regard to the club's stadium plans in this piece.

McEwan quotes Laxer directly, the crucial part bolded for your reading pleasure:

“We are working closely with Hal and Hank Steinbrenner, sons of the Yankee owner, and Felix Lopez, Steinbrenner’s son-in-law. We think the setup will be wonderful and after a couple of seasons, we will move to a new facility to be built near the University of Tampa, in downtown Tampa. This is truly exciting,” said Laxer.

As tight-lipped as Andrew Nestor and all concerned with the Rowdies have been so far, this may be as big a revelation as you could hope for. What do you guys think of this idea?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Preps: Roehn's first appeal of suspension denied, but process not over yet

Berkeley Prep standout T.J. Roehn has had his appeal of a three-week suspension for a red card against Lakeland George Jenkins denied by the FHSAA, but Roehn said late on Wednesday night that the appeals process was not over, and there was a chance he would be able to return in time for next week’s Class 3A-Region 3 tournament quarterfinals.

“There is a second level of appeal, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Roehn said. “We’re still working on it, it’s not over for sure yet.”

The second appeal should happen early next week ahead of Thursday’s region quarterfinals. The Buccaneers defeated St. Petersburg Catholic 9-1 in the Class 3A-10 tournament semifinals on Wednesday to earn a berth in the region tournament.

Roehn said he and fellow captains Jake Felman and Jordan Tannenbaum talked to the team before the game and emphasized the belief that the team was good enough without Roehn to still succeed.

“We basically just sat them down and talked to them, just told them how everything was on the line and how we could do it without me,” Roehn said. “I’ve heard talk around school and other people saying it wouldn’t be the same without me, but I told them that, and it brought them up, and they all stepped up, especially Theo (Wells), he had four goals tonight. I know they can do it without me, they just have to go for it.”

Should Roehn’s second appeal fail he would still become available if the Buccaneers were to reach the region final. Berkeley will face Clearwater Central Catholic for the district title on Friday night.

Milien thrilled to be staying in Tampa

TAMPA – It’s hard to wipe the smile off Pascal Milien’s face at the best of times, but there was no chance of it happening as he was one of three players introduced by FC Tampa Bay Rowdies at Steinbrenner Field on Wednesday afternoon.

For the University of Tampa All-American, the opportunity to stay in Tampa to begin his professional career was one that left him overjoyed.

“I can’t ask for better,” Milien said. “This is a dream come true for me after all these years I’ve been pushing myself since high school, through college, thank God I finally have a chance to play in my hometown.”

Milien was joined by Jesuit graduate Joe Donoho, who had a stellar college career at Rutgers and Bradley. The Tampa native grew up a New York Yankees fan, and was looking forward to playing on the same field he had attended spring training games at growing up.

“It’s awesome,” Donoho said. “To be here to get a chance to do this, it really is a blessing.”

While the Rowdies said since the beginning of their search for players that they wanted to try and sign players with ties to the Tampa Bay area, Owner and President Andrew Nestor said that the main reason why the club had targeted Milien and Donoho was because of their playing ability.

“You always want to have local players,” Nestor said. “It helps the fan base, it helps develop future talent because local kids have something to look up to, but at the same time they have to be quality, and I think we’re pretty lucky to be in a market where you have local talent that is truly good enough to play at this level, and these two guys have shown that.”

Donoho and the third player introduced on Wednesday, Yendry Diaz, could make a strong central defensive pairing for the team in its inaugural season. Head coach Paul Dalglish said he couldn’t wait to see what his new players would be able to accomplish in the upcoming season.

“We’ve worked tirelessly to bring in the best players,” Dalglish said. “We’ve had a lot of combines to try and find talent, and three of the guys you saw today have been at the top of the pile when it comes to the talent we’ve been looking for. As some of the names you’ve seen, and some of the names you’ll hear about in the future are going to be very exciting names as well, and there’s going to be a lot of disappointed people who wanted to play in Tampa, but that’s a good thing for us because it means the standard is very high.”

Steinbrenner Field to be Rowdies first home; Milien, Donoho among signees

TAMPA – Steinbrenner Field will be the first home of the FC Tampa Bay Rowdies when they play their inaugural season in the United States Soccer Federation Second Division, with a home opener planned for early May.

Standing inside the club’s new home Rowdies Owner and President Andrew Nestor said he was excited everything was starting to come together for the franchise.

“It’s very exciting,” Nestor said. “It’s been a long year-and-a-half, restructuring, relaunching a league, building an entire organization from scratch, putting together not just and organization but a winning team that we feel will compete for a championship in our first year. To be able to announce that we’re going to play in such a great venue and really start to look forward is very exciting.”

While the Rowdies were effusive in their praise of their new home, they will still be looking to build a soccer-specific stadium which will become their permanent home. Plans for that are still in progress, though, with Nestor not willing to say where the stadium might be built.

As for the upcoming season, the league’s schedule is expected to be announced early next week according to the USSF, with the opening weekend currently schedule for April 10. When the team does get to host its home opener, the playing surface will be stripped across the outfield and over a portion of the infield around first base. While that will mean part of the surface will be infield dirt, Rowdies head coach Paul Dalglish wasn’t concerned about that detail.

“No concern whatsoever,” Dalglish said. “I think it’s a small price to pay for the standard of the grass that we’ve got. As you can see, it’s absolutely immaculate. There’s no team going to play on better grass this year and that’s for sure, and if there’s a little bit of dirt in the corner, it’s a small price to pay.”

Also introduced were three of the players who will be part of the Rowdies return, University of Tampa All-American Pascal Milien, former Jesuit graduate Joe Donoho and Yendry Diaz, who was one of the Cuban players who defected when the North American Olympic qualifying tournament was held in Tampa two years ago.

Others that have been signed include Kwame Adjeman-Pamboe, a former first round pick of MLS’s Colorado Rapids, and Dwight Barnett, who impressed at the Rowdies third combine in Tampa earlier this month. Dalglish echoed Nestor’s sentiment that the team would be shooting high in its first season.

“As Andrew said, we’re a new organization, but we want to be competitive from the very first day,” Dalglish said. “We’re coming out this year to win the championship. That’s out goal, we’re going to compete and win the championship. Is it a tough ask? Of course it is, but you’ve got to aim high, and that’s what we aim to do. We’ve got the players to do it, we’ve got the organization to do it, we’ve got the facility to do it, we just need a little bit of luck along the way, and we should be able to do it.”

Still to be announced is the location of the training facility, and a few more signings and the announcement of preseason games. With training camp opening on March 1, Nestor said he expects there to be five or six preseason games, with the opener likely at Pepin Stadium against the University of Tampa.

Currently the side has 13 players under contract, with Nestor saying another two deals were close to completion. Dalglish said he expected the side would carry a roster of 21 players.

As for what he would feel when the Rowdies run out onto Steinbrenner field for the first time, Nestor said it would likely be an emotional moment for him and the rest of the Rowdies owners and staff.

“I’d imagine it would be pretty emotional,” Nestor said. “It’s been a lot of hard work from a lot of dedicated people to make it happen.”

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Preps: Wolves defeat Cougars, advance to first district final

PLANT CITY – Newsome advanced to its first district final, and in turn its first region tournament appearance, as a dominant opening 20 minutes paved the way for a 3-1 victory against host Durant in the Class 5A-Region 8 semifinals on Tuesday night.

“This is the furthest we’ve ever gone,” Matt Staggs said. “It’s nice to be the best team in Newsome history.”

Staggs gave the Wolves the lead in the ninth minute. After winning a free kick close to the goal line on the right side of the penalty area, Staggs and Skylar Wilks worked a practice-field move to perfection, with Staggs dummying a cross before peeling off to the left. Wilks then slid a pass to Staggs, who hadn’t been picked up 15 yards from the goal. He fired a shot into the top left corner of the net.

“It was perfect, upper 90,” Staggs said. “Skylar and I knew we were going to do that play if we had the chance. We had the opportunity the last game, but they covered us, so it was a good goal.”

The Wolves added to the lead with two goals in four minutes, one on a cross-field pass in the 15th minute from Steven Gonzalez to Armani Alicea, whose low shot found the left corner. Harold Gussman added a third in similar fashion, with a shot just inside the left post.

“We respect Connor (Bass') height, you can’t beat him in the air, so you have to go low,” Newsome coach Neal Rickmers said. “It’s not the pace of the ball, it’s just the placement and the pace to actually put it in.”

While Newsome (14-4-3) opened the game strongly, Durant (9-5-4) faltered, giving up possession cheaply as the Cougars were unable to find the rhythm Coach Jamin Hollingsworth had been looking for.

“Newsome did everything we talked about doing in the first half,” Hollingsworth said. “You have to give them credit, the first goal, you can’t stop it, and I guess they got us rattled or nervous or however you want to put it, and we didn’t recover from that, and then the next two were unfortunate.”

The Cougars played better in the second half, but were unable to take their opportunities when they arose. Leading scorer Billy Fanning had difficulty finding his range for most of the night, finally scoring in the 78th minute, while Andres Plata had a good chance to pull a goal back early in the second half, only to fire over the crossbar.

Newsome also remained dangerous, Gonzalez’s curling free kick from the left forcing a good save from Bass and Mark Calhoun having his header off a corner from the right cleared off the line by Durant’s Ben Salazar.

Now the Wolves will face Plant City, a side they drew with 3-3 in the regular season. Rickmers said he thought his side would need to show the energy they had to start Tuesday’s game for the full 80 minutes if the Wolves were to win their first district title.

“To beat Plant City, you’re going to have to go the whole game,” Rickmers said. “For us, we need to get three and keep going, otherwise it’s going to be a tough battle.”

Preps: Raiders not at their best, but advance past Indians

PLANT CITY – Plant City wasn’t at its absolute best, but the Raiders' clinical finishing, in contrast to opponent East Bay’s, was enough to send them through to the Class 5A-District 8 tournament final with a 3-1 victory at Durant High on Tuesday evening.

The Raiders (13-1-2) opened the scoring early, A.J. Black giving his side the lead. Esgar Montelongo almost doubled the lead later in the first half, his first close-range effort being well-saved by East Bay goalkeeper Derrick Miranda, the rebound being headed off the line by a covering defender.

Jorge Martinez did make the score 2-0 five minutes before half time, cutting in from the left side to curl a shot into the right corner of the net from the top of the penalty area. Raiders coach Stephen Rossiter was very pleased with his side’s finishing.

“That’s how we’ve done it all year, and that’s just the good chemistry with this team,” Rossiter said. “They just know how to read each other on the diagonal, and they’ve worked well on the finishing side.”

On the other hand, the Indians' finishing was disappointing. While they were able to gain good possession, especially in the second half as the Raiders' passing became a little sloppy, the Indians (14-4-1) didn’t test Raiders goalkeeper Chris Sullivan as much as they would have liked, Miguel Cerveleon’s goal being ruled out for offside on one of the chances that did hit the target.

“It’s tough to get it down there and have so many opportunities and not be able to put one away,” Indians coach Jonathan Drake said. “I thought that first goal that was called back could have been a difference maker, that’s the game, sometimes it happens to you.”

As poor as the Raiders passing was at certain points of the second half, their third goal in the 69th minute showed what they could do when they put it all together. After the move began in their own half, the ball was passed wide to Martinez, who drove down the left. He then held up, and found Black surging through the left channel, and Black took the ball on before centering across the top of the 6-yard box where Marcus Svensson was there to meet it with a low finish.

“It definitely shows what they’re capable of,” Rossiter said of the goal. “Sometimes every team has their differences in the players on the field, but tonight everyone was definitely playing, the chemistry was there.”

Kyle Whiteside pulled a goal back three minutes later, being slipped in and firing home from close range after an initial shot had been blocked, but the Indians were unable to rally any further. Plant City did get a late scare as Black was helped off the field with what was described after the game as a bruised quad, meaning he may not be available for Friday’s final against Newsome.

Rossiter said the Raiders would now take a break until the final, and try to rest and recuperate with their place in the region tournament secured, but that the opportunity to win the second district title in school history was a big one.

“It’s huge, especially for our seniors,” Rossiter said. “I think it really gives them a lot of momentum, but they’ve still got to work hard to achieve it.”

5 Questions With ... Olivia Bloemke

Freedom senior Olivia Bloemke has scored eight goals and added six assists this season as the Patriots enter the Class 5A-Region 3 playoffs this week as District 9 champions. Bloemke, who has committed to Rollins College for next season, took some time to talk to the TBSB ahead of the Patriots game against Manatee on Thursday night.

TBSB: One of big things in high school soccer is playing well at the right time, and it seems you guys are doing just that. Is it feeling like you’re peaking at the right to make a run to states?

Olivia Bloemke: Oh yeah, we're definitely peaking at the right time. Our focus this year has just been on trying to finish, and the past couple of games we’ve just found the back of the net and we were able to find each other openings. We’re just really synced right now and working really well together, so I think we can hopefully go far in this tournament.

TBSB: Do you know much about Manatee?

Bloemke: We’ve never played them before and we don’t know much about them. We’re not taking them lightly at all, and we’re going into it just as we would any other opponent.

TBSB: Do you have any specific pregame routine before each game?

Bloemke: I always pray before I play. When the national anthem is going on I always have a quiet time with myself and concentrate on what I need to do before the game, and just get that done.

TBSB: Who’s the player on the team that keeps every relaxed, who keeps everyone loose and having fun?

Bloemke: I think Chloe Stokes has a good sense of humor. She always knows when to crack jokes and take the pressure off.

TBSB: What would it mean to you to make a run to the state finals?

Bloemke: Not just for me, but for the whole team especially the seniors and Coach (Chris) Hinkle I think it would mean a great deal, because our guys went last year, and I don’t think girls soccer at Freedom has gotten the recognition they need so far in their history. It would be great to go as far as we can with the talent that we have.

Preps: Focus on preparation keys Palm Harbor's success

PALM HARBOR – Ask Palm Harbor University’s leading scorer Catherine Brinkman what the biggest key to the Hurricanes’ success this season has been, and the answer isn’t the high-scoring forwards, the tight defense or the creative midfield.

It’s been the team’s focus during warm-ups.

“I think our biggest key has been warming up correctly, and playing as a team right away,” Brinkman said as the ESPN Rise No.10-ranked Hurricanes prepared to face Bloomingdale in the Class 6A-Region 2 quarterfinals on Thursday. “Not waiting 20 minutes or 30 minutes to get ready. Coming out and playing our game from the start, getting a goal quickly and from there on playing as a team.”

The Hurricanes have used that method to earn an 18-0-1 record, and their eighth straight district title last week with a 4-0 victory against Countryside in the Class 6A-7 final.

“If we can control a game for the first 10 minutes, put another team on their heels, it’s a really big factor,” Coach John Planamenta said. “It sets a tone for the game if you can control the first few minutes.”

That was the case in last season’s Class 5A State championship game against Lakeland George Jenkins, where the Hurricanes didn’t allow the Eagles a chance to settle, and controlled the flow and tempo for much of the game. Brinkman scored twice to lead the Hurricanes to a 3-1 victory, giving the program its fourth state championship.

The focus Brinkman talks about has been there for the bulk of this season as well, but the moments where the early focus wasn’t there has only driven home how critical preparation before the match begins is to the team’s success.

“There was one game this year where the girls goofed around too much during warm-up, and it showed in the first 10 minutes, and they knew right away what it was, it was a poor warm-up, poor preparation,” Planamenta said. “The girls know what they need to do to get ready for each game. These games, getting into the postseason especially, we try to prepare them for what to look out for for the opponents, but like Catherine said, they know what they’re supposed to do in order to get ready, get prepared.”

Being properly prepared is going to be critical as the Hurricanes try to win a second straight state title. While the Hurricanes have played well so far this season, the only blemish on their record a 1-1 tie with Seminole, the players don’t think they’ve had as many challenging matches as in previous seasons.

“We haven’t been challenged, challenged,” defender Shannon Walisch said. “Countryside gave us a run for our money, (so did) Seminole, but Bloomingdale and the teams we’re going to face are going to come at us strong.”

The fact that they have been so dominant, though, may point to why the Hurricanes feel they haven’t been tested yet. Brinkman has scored 37 goals and the defense hasn’t conceded a goal in 2010, which explains their ascent up the national rankings. Brinkman, though, says the side hasn’t really thought about their standing in the national scene, with the only thing on their minds taking the first step to a Class 6A state title.

“That sort of thing doesn’t bother us. We don’t go to those tournaments to get ranked higher, that’s not our main goal. I mean, last year we beat the No.1 team in the nation, George Jenkins, and we were like ‘They’re No.1?’ We don’t see the rankings as that big of a deal.” Brinkman said. “It’s not all about status. If we come to a field and were ready to play, it doesn’t matter if they’re No.1 or No.50, if we come to play better than them, then we’re going to win.”

Preps: Palm Harbor girls still No.10, Sickles boys up to No.17 in ESPN rankings

Palm Harbor University's girls remained ranked No.10 in the latest set of ESPN Rise Fab 50 rankings after a 4-0 victory against Countryside in the Class 6A-Disrict 8 final last Friday.

The victory gave the Hurricanes their eighth straight district title. They will face Bloomingdale on Thursday night as they begin their pursuit of a second straight state title.

On the boys side, Sickles moved up five places to No.17 after its victory at the Wharton Invitational last week. The Gryphons are the favorites to win Class 5A-District 9, and could be headed for a collision course with East Lake, now ranked No.26 and the favorite in Class 5A-District 11.

The two teams could meet in the Class 5A-Region 3 final, should each advance that far.

Preps: Wharton Invitational title keeps Sickles on top of Coaches Poll

Sickles’ dominant performance in the Wharton Invitational kept the Gryphons on top of the Hillsborough County Coaches Boys Soccer Poll entering this week’s district championships, as the top eight teams in poll remained unmoved.

The only changes saw Tampa Prep move up one spot to No.9, and Wharton enter the poll as Berkeley Prep dropped out of the rankings.

The district tournaments could see multiple top five match-ups. Tonight sees No.2 Plant City and No.4 East Bay face off in the Class 5A-District 8 semifinals, and the winner could face No.5 Newsome in Friday’s final. No.1 Sickles and No.3 Gaither could also meet in the Class 5A-Disrict 9 final.

The full poll is listed below:

1. Sickles (19-1-2)
2. Plant City (12-1-2)
3. Gaither (13-3-1)
4. East Bay (13-3-1)
5. Newsome (12-4-3)
6. Steinbrenner (10-2-2)
7. Jesuit (14-4-3)
8. Tampa Catholic (11-4-3)
9. Tampa Prep (12-4-2)
10. Wharton (8-5-2)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Preps: Final girls poll has Plant on top

The Plant Panthers will enter the girls region playoffs as the top-ranked team in Hillsborough County as they remained No.1 in the final Hillsborough County Coaches Poll of the season when it was released on Monday morning.

The Panthers defeated No.3 Bloomingdale 1-0 for the Class 6A-District 8 title on Friday, and will host Countryside in the Class 6A-Region 2 quarterfinals on Thursday evening.

Berkeley Prep finished in the No.2 slot after winning the Class 3A-District 10 title. The Buccaneers will host Frostproof on Thursday night.

The remainder of the top five remained the same, with Newsome at No.4 and Steinbrenner at No.5. Freedom jumped into the No.6 slot after their 5-0 victory in the 5A-9 final against Hillsborough, and Tampa Prep is ranked No.8 entering the Class 2A-Region 3 playoffs.

The full poll can be found below:

1. Plant (20-1-1)
2. Berkeley Prep (17-4-2)
3. Bloomingdale (13-5-3)
4. Newsome (14-3-4)
5. Steinbrenner (15-0-2)
6. Freedom (12-3-4)
7. East Bay (12-4-2)
8. Tampa Prep (15-5-4)
9. Wharton (9-7-4)
10. Hillsborough (12-3-1)

Preps: Boys Districts ready to get underway

Boys District tournament open across the area tonight as the second season begins. Here’s a look at the districts that include Hillsborough County squads.

At Wharton

Teams: Alonso, Bloomingdale, Brandon, Plant, Wharton.

Outlook: Without a truly outstanding team, 6A-8 is one of the more open districts. Plant earned the No.1 seed thanks in part to their outstanding home record, but both Wharton and Bloomingdale will be dangerous, with the Wildcats home field advantage potentially proving crucial. Wharton went 3-1 at home in district play, the only loss a surprise 3-2 defeat to No.5 seed Brandon.

At Durant

Teams: Armwood, Durant, East Bay, Newsome, Plant City, Riverview, Tampa Bay Tech.

Outlook: No.1 seed Plant City should be favored to win this district, but the Raiders could get a serious test from East Bay should the Indians get past Riverview in the quarterfinals. East Bay reached the final of the Wharton Invitational last week, and could be primed to spring an upset. Newsome should match up with Durant in the other semifinals, the Wolves looking to bounce back from their 3-0 loss to Sickles in the Wharton Invitational.

At King

Teams: Chamberlain, Freedom, Gaither, Hillsborough, King, Leto, Sickles.

Outlook: Last season, Sickles was primed for a deep run into the playoffs, only to see their hopes get derailed in the district semifinals. Don’t expect a similar letdown from the Gryphons this season, who won the Wharton Invitational, defeating prospective semifinals opponent King 2-0 in the process. Gaither appears to be the favorite to meet the Gryphons in the final as the Cowboys have won two straight impressively since falling to Sickles on Jan.8.

At Strawberry Crest

Teams: Blake, Jefferson, Jesuit, Lennard, Middleton, Robinson, Spoto, Steinbrenner, Strawberry Crest.

Outlook: Steinbrenner and Jesuit should ease into the final here, with only Robinson taking a point from either side with their 2-2 draw against Jesuit at the beginning of the season. Jesuit appears to be the side in form after its 4-2 victory against Berkeley Prep on Saturday, while Steinbrenner came down to earth hard in a 4-0 loss against Gaither after earning the No.1 seed with a 2-1 win against the Tigers in their final district game.

At St. Petersburg Catholic

Teams: Berkeley Prep, Clearwater Central Catholic, St. Petersburg Catholic, Tampa Catholic.

Outlook: The absence of Berkeley’s T.J. Roehn for at least the district tournament, if not the region quarterfinals and semifinals, could open the door for Tampa Catholic to make a run at the title. Berkeley, even without Roehn, shouldn’t have any issue advancing past St. Petersburg Catholic in the semifinals, though, and should have starting goalkeeper Leland Newhaller back after missing time with a bruised hip. Mark Biddinger is a long-shot to return this week though, his return being more likely should the Bucs make the region tournament.

At Lakeland Christian

Teams: Winter Haven All Saints’, Leesburg First Academy, Lakeland Christian, Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic, Seffner Christian, Lakeland Victory Christian.

Outlook: Seffner Christian has played well to close out the season, their only loss in their last six games coming against coming to Santa Fe Catholic, but that is the side the Crusaders will need to beat should it advance against First Academy in the quarterfinals to reach the region tournament.

At Bishop McLaughin

Teams: Academy at the Lakes, Bishop McLaughlin, Calvary Christian, Carrollwood Day, Hernando Christian, Indian Rocks Christian, Tampa Prep.

Outlook: Tampa Prep has, of late, looked like a side slightly lacking in confidence. The opportunity for the Terrapins to re-find their scoring touch should help that this week, setting them up for another potential run at the final four. Indian Rocks Christian was the only district opposition able to play the Terrapins close this season in a 3-1 Tampa Prep win, and should be the favorite to advance to the final and into the region quarterfinals.

At Shorecrest Prep

Teams: Admiral Farragut, Bradenton Christian, Cambridge, Keswick Christian, Northside Christian, Out of Door Academy, Shorecrest Prep, Bradenton St. Stephen’s.

Outlook: No.6 seed Cambridge will need to pull a pair of upsets to earn a place in the final as they first face No.3 seed and host Shorecrest, which has already beaten the Lancers twice this season, and should they advance there No.2 seed Out of Door, which beat the Lancers 2-0 earlier in the season.

For a Pinellas County perspective on the upcoming week, we turn to Bryan Burns of the St. Petersburg Times, who takes a look at Palm Harbor, Countryside and Indian Rocks Christian here.

Meanwhile, in Pasco County, The Times’ Izzy Gould looks at the prospects of Land O’ Lakes, Sunlake, WireGrass Ranch and Mitchell here.

Last season, this week was full of surprises, with a number of favored teams falling early. Who's your pick to make a surprise run into the region playoffs? And which of the top seeds is it going to be at the expense of?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Gathman leads Tigers past Roehn-less Buccaneers

TAMPA – Jesuit got a pair of first half goals from Stephen Gathman, and then held off a strong rally in the final 15 minutes, to defeat a Berkeley Prep side missing star striker T.J. Roehn 4-2 in both side’s regular season finale on Saturday evening at Newman Stadium.

Roehn was ejected for using a profanity in Berkeley’s game Wednesday night against Lakeland Jenkins, and is appealing the three-week suspension issued, but he saw his teammates start strongly on Senior Day as they pressed for an early goal. The Tigers (14-4-3) were able to weather the storm, though, and took the lead in the 13th minute as Gathman latched onto a through-ball and fired low into the right corner.

Gathman then struck again in the 26th minute, a defensive clearance by Berkeley being headed back forward by Jesuit’s Tyler Hartlage to Gathman, who controlled his shot well after it bobbled just as he drove it into the right corner.

Berkeley (9-8-3) had its chances to score in the first half, with Auston Chen shooting over the crossbar after being put through by Jordan Tannenbaum. Tannenbaum also had a good opportunity, but a nasty bounce as he was trying to shoot caused his effort to slice wide. Kevin Harvey also saw a header go over the crossbar after a good cross by Tannenbaum.

Those missed opportunities would hurt even more a minute before halftime as Joel Gutierrez stole in at the near post to flick home Joseph Metzger’s corner to make it 3-0 at the break.

“I thought the third goal was critical, because a 2-0 lead is always a dangerous lead,” Jesuit coach Bob Bauman said. “We has pretty much subbed all of our starters out by then, so for the last 15 minutes of the first half was bench, and we’ve been able to go to our bench this year and maintain a high level of play.”

Alex Moore added a fourth for the Tigers with 14 minutes to go, but then the Bucs rallied behind Theo Wells, who headed home from a Jake Felman corner in the 69th minute before scoring on a deflected shot a minute later.

Felman had a chance at a hat trick, but his shot with six minutes to go was brilliantly saved by Seth Drummond, who dove low to his left to turn the shot aside, allowing the Tigers to hold on. Wells said while getting his third, and setting up a big end to the game, would have been nice, the fact that the Bucs had rallied back without Roehn left the team feeling optimistic about its chances without their star.

“If we walked out of here with a 4-0 loss, it would have been hard,” Wells said. “I’m glad that without T.J. we got two goals, we rallied at the end, we got some momentum going into districts.”

Roehn would be eligible to return for the Class 3A-Region 3 final should his appeal be turned down, with the possibility he could be available for the region quarterfinals if it is reduced by a week. Berkeley coach Tim Cooper said he thought his side would miss Roehn, and would need other players to step up in his stead.

“It’s obviously a tough loss for us, not having T.J., he’s been 90, 95 percent of our offense,” Cooper said. “The guys know they’re going to have to step it up, and that’s what it’s going to come down to.”

Roehn hit with three-week suspension

Berkeley Prep soccer standout T.J. Roehn has been given a three-week suspension after getting a straight red card against Lakeland George Jenkins on Wednesday night.

The suspension would mean Roehn’s first possible game back would be the Class 3A-Region 3 final, should the Buccaneers advance that far without him.

Speaking before the Buccaneers game Saturday against Jesuit, Roehn said the red card came late in the game after he got into an altercation with his marker at a corner. According to Roehn, after the referee approached to try and handle the situation, the Jenkins player claimed Roehn punched him, to which Roehn responded using a profanity. That resulted in his ejection.

Roehn said he would appeal, with the hope the suspension would be reduced by a week. That would allow him to compete in the region quarterfinals after sitting out this week’s Class 3A-District 10 tournament at St. Petersburg Catholic.

Roehn currently has 101 goals for the school, four short of Tyler Davis’ school record.

Preps: Plant's season starts now; District final wrap-up

After defeating Bloomingdale 1-0 to win the Class 6A-District 8 title, the Plant Panthers' season begins now.

And after a dominant defensive dsiplay against the Bulls, detailed here by the St. Petersburg Times' Eduardo A. Encina, the Panthers look ready to put the disappointment of last season's region quarterfinals loss to East Lake behind them.

Particularly impressive in the way the Panthers played was the composure they showed defensively. Coach Steve McGill said after the game how pleased he was was with the decision-making his defense and midfield showed.

"We didn't have any miscommunications back there," McGill said. "They played safe, played safe balls out. We did a really nice job of covering each other tonight; when one stepped up, another always dropped back just in case. They were really active on the defensive end."

The Panthers wll host Countryside on Thursday evening after the Cougars fell to ESPN Rise No.10 Palm Harbor University in the 6A-7 final. The Times' Bryan Burns details here how the Hurricanes dominated in a 4-0 victory to take their eighth straight district title. At this point, PHU has to be considered a favorite to win back-to-back state titles after winning the Class 5A championship last season.

In Class 5A, Newsome cruised to the District 8 title with a 3-0 victory against East Bay. The Tribune's Jarrett Guthrie was at the game, and details here how the Wolves were able to earn their second straight 5A-8 title.

Newsome believed its victory made a statement, and so did its former district rival Freedom in a 5-0 victory against Hillsborough to take the 5A-9 title. The Times' Todd Foley writes here that the Terriers didn't manage a shot as the Patriots dominated possession, running away with the game with four second-half goals.

The perceived favorite to reach the final four from the Patriots' region is Seminole, who earned the 5A-11 crown with a 3-1 victory against East Lake. Sierre Lelii scored twice, and told The Times' Nathan Cowan here that this was the first step for the Warhawks, who will face Northeast in the region quarterfinals after the Vikings lost 2-1 to Largo in the 5A-12 final.

As expected, Steinbrenner dominated Robinson 8-0 to win a district title in its first season. The Warriors will wait to find out who they play later today as Lakewood Ranch faces Palmetto in the 4A-10 final at 2 p.m.

In Pasco County, Hudson needed a goal from Alicia Schuering in the second period of overtime to get past Mitchell 2-1 for the 4A-7 title, The Tribune's Mike Camunas providing the details here. The Cobras will host Land O' Lakes in the region quartefinals after River Ridge won its fifth straight district title with a 3-1 victory against the Gators.

Berkeley Prep got a goal from Sam Newhaller to give the Buccaneers a 1-0 victory and the 3A-10 title against Clearwater Central Catholic, but CCC played far better than they had in previous encounter's, which should give them hope if the two teams meet again in a region semifinal.

Tampa Prep, on the other hand, got five goals from Colby Maffei as it blasted Indian Rocks Christian 8-0, which apparently shouldn't have given the Terrapins the additional motivation it did after the semifinals. The Terrapins will now face Shorecrest Prep, which gave up three late goals to Bradenton St. Stephen's to fall 3-1 in the 2A-10 final.

Friday, January 22, 2010

New Zealand's Christie becomes Rowdies' first signing

The Tampa Bay Rowdies have announced their first official signing, New Zealand international Jeremy Christie.

Christie, a midfielder, has won 20 caps for New Zealand, and played in five of his country’s qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup. New Zealand will face Italy, Paraguay and Slovakia in the opening round of the tournament after qualifying for the first time since 1982.

“Jeremy Christie has the experience and skill to be a true leader on the field and in our locker room. He has played well at the highest level for his country since the age of 16,” team owner and president Andrew Nestor said in a press release. “Jeremy is the kind of player whose skill and professionalism will exemplify our club.”

Christie is the first of seven foreign players the Rowdies will be able to sign. His prior professional begin with Barnsley in England before he returned closer to home to play in Australia’s A-League, competing for the New Zealand Knights, Perth Glory and Wellington Phoenix before a short stay with Waikatere United in the New Zealand Football Championship.

“I’m excited to be a part of the Rowdies in their inaugural season,” Christie said. “I look forward to moving to Florida and working with the remarkable Rowdies coaching staff and organization.”

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dalglish pleased as Rowdies' combine concludes

TAMPA – No-one was sure how many players the Tampa Bay Rowdies would be looking at giving contracts to before their final combine began at the Ed Radice Sports Complex on Tuesday afternoon, including Manager Paul Dalglish and General Manager Perry Van Der Beck.

After Thursday morning’s final scrimmages, though, Dalglish said that he felt multiple players who had taken part over the week would be getting offers from the club.

“We’re definitely going to be offering contracts from it,” Dalglish said. “Even if we’d gotten one player it would have been worthwhile, but I think we’ll probably get more than one player from this.”

Among those that appeared to help their causes on Thursday were Jesuit alum Joe Donoho, who was excellent in the center of defense, and former Ridgewood standout and Chicago Fire draftee Richard Jata, whose versatility would likely be an asset to the new franchise.

Dalglish thought the good performances of Japanese midfielder Takuya Yamada lived up to the expectations the Rowdies management had when Yamada told them he would be coming to work out, but that there were others who hadn’t got Yamada’s experience who had also made a good impression.

“We knew he was a good player before he came in,” Dalglish said. “He’s played for his national team in Japan, he’s played nearly 400 games in the J-League, he’s played at the top level his whole career. That wasn’t a surprise to see him be so good, but some of the ones who haven’t played professionally before, or who haven’t played at a high level before have stood out, which was really pleasing.”

COMBINE QUALITY: Jata had been at the first combine the Rowdies held in Tampa last year, and said he thought the quality of player brought in for this week’s event was of a higher standard.

That was certainly reflected in Thursday’s second game, which was remarkably sharply played. Dalglish said the sides had been switched around to try and fit some pieces together after seeing the player’s styles up close for the first two days.

“We did try and doctor it a little today to try and get players we did have an interest in playing together,” Dalglish said. “It was great to see the standard, even though there were some tired legs, the standard was still good.”

Jata was pleased with the way he played, picking up an assist when his inswinging corner from the right was met by Kyle Clinton at the far post for a low volleyed finish.

“I’m happy, I like it here, we’ll see if it works out, I hope so,” Jata said. “Last day, I couldn’t hold anything back, and I thought this was the best team that I had as far as guys that play like me. I just played simple today, I didn’t try to do too much dribbling, just played a lot of one, two, three-touch, and it worked out a lot better.”

HOMETOWN BOOST: A number of players with local ties played alongside Donoho and Jata in the final game, with Jay Ayers (Bloomingdale), Chad Burt (Northeast) and Kirk LaBusch (Brandon) among them.

For Ayers, the event was an enjoyable one, as he got to play alongside players he had grown up competing with and against. The key thing, though, was putting in the type of performances that would allow him a chance to return when the Rowdies open their training camp.

“It was good getting a run in with some of the local guys,” Ayers said. “It’s always nice getting back on the field with them, but they’re looking to bring in talent, whether it’s from Tampa or not. Obviously, if they’re looking at a (couple of players) and they bring the same amount of skill to the table, they’re going to select the local guy, so that gives us a little advantage I think.”

Dalglish said he thought the opportunity of playing for a home-town team was an excellent incentive for the players with local ties, and he thought that had allowed them to raise their games as a result.

“I think the local guys are hungry for it,” Dalglish said. “They want to play for the hometown team, and they showed it today. It’s great for us if we can get local talent on the team because it gives the fans something to relate to. They’ve seen the journey they’ve taken to get to the professional level with the Rowdies, and then they know it’s a realistic journey they can take.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Milien, Rowdies talking; Burt taking his chance

His absence from the field, but presence at the Tampa Bay Rowdies combine, had led some to speculate that former University of Tampa All-American Pascal Milien was one of the players the Rowdies had already signed to become part of their inaugural season.

But while Milien said he and his people and the Rowdies are talking, nothing is definite yet.

“We’re working on something right now, so we’ll just wait and see how everything’s going to be going,” Milien said. “Those guys saw me play at the MLS combine, and I have a little ankle injury, and I don’t want to make it worse, so that’s why (I’m not playing).”

Milien said he would love to stay in Tampa, though.

“It would be really, really exciting because this is my hometown, pretty much,” Milien said. “This is where I go to school, 45 minutes away from where I went to high school. Nice, beautiful weather in Florida, so I would love to stay here.”

TAKING HIS CHANCE: The first combine the Rowdies held in Tampa didn’t go well for St. Petersburg’s Chad Burt. Injured on the opening day, he didn’t get much opportunity to impress General Manager Perry Van Der Beck.

This time around, Burt is making the most of his chance. He has played well for the first two days, and picked up a goal on Wednesday while going close with another pair of opportunities.

“My legs are getting a little tired,” Burt said. “I played a little bit more simple today defensively, and it was great to get the goal. Make it a little easier on me and my teammates.”

Burt had bags of ice strapped to his calves after the game to help cool as the afternoon sun appeared to take its toll on a lot of players. His Yellow ‘B’ squad, after a shaky first 15 minutes, settled down and played well for the final 15 minutes of the first period and the opening 15 of the second before the game slowed.

“When the game starts, it was all very tight, you’ve got everyone flying around,” Burt said. “When the game settled down we got a little more possession out of the back. It’s a lot easier when you’re moving the ball instead of having everyone flying around at 100 miles-per-hour, but I felt like after that first 15 we got the ball to the players we needed to hold the ball and went from there.”

SCRIMMAGE SUMMARIES: In warmer conditions that Tuesday, the pace of the opening game between the Yellow ‘B’ and Blue ‘A’ teams was pretty frenetic, with the Blue squad getting the better of it as the Yellow side wasn’t as sharp as in its opener. Former USF standout Francisco Aristeguieta moved into the center of midfield for Blue, playing on the top of a triangle with Stanley Nyazamba and Takuya Yamada, and seemed more comfortable there than in the opening game where he had played wide.

Aristeguita almost opened the scoring, in fact, after a nice move down the right was centered to the top of the penalty area where Sean Bucker layed it off to Aristeguieta for a drive, only for former University of Tampa All-American Ryan Thompson to tip the shot over the crossbar.

But then the Yellow squad found its rhythm, led by midfielder Alan Sanchez and defender Otto Loewy, who had an excellent game at the back. That led to a pair of chances for Chad Burt, the first beautifully turned aside by Blue goalkeeper Dan Williams, but the second finding the back of the net.

Burt then saw his curling shot from just outside the penalty area go over the bar just after the break, while forward Aaron Wheeler also did nice work up top for the blue squad.

The Yellow ‘A’ squad got off to a fast start in their game against the Blue ‘B’ team as a counter-attack was capped by an early goal for Bryan Perez. The Yellow team pursued a more aggressive approach in getting the ball forward, and full back Taylor Lord was impressive not only in defense, but also when he made a good run past two players to set up an attack that led to a good effort on goal by Tyrell Burgess.

The Blue squad was a little more patient in its build-up, with Ryan Maduro from Providence pulling the strings well in midfield and Dwight Barnett again offering good strength and work-rate up front. But as in the opening day, Barnett often didn’t get the support he needed from his midfield, and was left to toil alone.

After the break, with former Chicago Fire draftee and Ridgewood High Richard Jata holding a more prominent role, the Yellow squad did well. They scored their second goal of the game after Jata had his shot from the left parried away, only for the rebound to come to Alex Weekes, who rifled a low shot into the back of the net from 15 yards out.

Preps: Sickles up to No.22 in ESPN rankings; Girls districts start to hit crunch tonight

Sickles move up two spots in the latest ESPN Rise Fab 50 boys soccer poll on Tuesday, sliding the Gryphons into the No.22 spot.

The Gryphons have looked impressive all season, and overcame a slow start to earn a 3-0 win against Newsome on Tuesday evening to advance to the semifinals of the Wharton Invitational tonight. Sickles has reached the knockout stages of the tournament the past two seasons but has never won the tournament, losing in the semifinals in 2008 and in the final against Durant last season.

For more on that game, and the rest of the semifinalists, here’s my story for the Tampa Tribune this morning.

East Lake also got a small bump up the rankings, moving up to No.29 this week. Should the Eagles come out of Class 5A-District 11, a potential match against the Gryphons could occur in the region final should both schools advance that far.

In the girls poll, Palm Harbor University has edged its way up to the No.10 spot of the poll, remaining the only bay area team in the Fab 50.

According to the St. Petersburg Times’ Bryan Burns, the Hurricanes appear set for a rematch with Countryside in the Class 6A-District 8 final.

The district tournaments start getting to the sharp end tonight in Hillsborough County, with berths in the region tournament at stake in tonight’s semifinals. Here’s a look at the county from The St. Petersburg Times’ Eduardo A. Encina and the Tampa Tribune’s Jarrett Guthrie.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dalglish pleased with opening day of Rowdies combine

TAMPA – There was a sense of nervousness as the close approached 1 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon at the Ed Radice Sports Complex.

While two teams warmed up quietly on the field, other players sat quietly in the stands. Even as big a personality as former University of Tampa goalkeeper Ryan Thompson sat quietly, waiting to see what would unfold.

Soon after the opening whistle went, though, officially beginning the Tampa Bay Rowdies final combine, the determination and desire began to show through, leaving Rowdies manager Paul Dalglish happy with the opening day of workouts.

“Really pleased, I think the standard overall was very, very good,” Dalglish said. “It’s too early to say if we’ll be offering anybody any contracts just now, but certainly some people have put themselves in line if they keep showing as well as they did today.”

Dalglish added that he wasn’t surprised to see the level of determination shown by all of the players in what were two entertaining scrimmages.

“You’d be very disappointed if there wasn’t,” he said. “This is the best opportunity some of these players are ever going to get to play professional soccer, maybe the only opportunity they’re going to get, so they’ve got to show determination, they’ve got to show desire because if they can’t take the best opportunity they’re going to get, they’re not going to show the determination when they’re playing.”

WHO DID WELL: Dalglish was understandably reticent to name any names, but there were some players that caught the TBSB’s eye in a positive manner. The shortlist for Day 1:

Richard Jata, M: The former Chicago Fire draftee was all over the field for his side, showing an excellent level of touch and fitness. He also came close to scoring twice with headers from corners, and his example appeared to help the rest of his Yellow squad raise its game in the second half of its scrimmage.

Stanley Nyazamba, M: Central midfielder impressed with his ability to get up and down the field, and did well not only winning possession but keeping his side flowing with his passing. Also had an excellent strike from well outside the penalty area turned wide.

Sam Meheu, F: Was energetic from the start of the second scrimmage, and linked up well with forward partner Kenny King and his midfield, where Chad Burt and Alan Sanchez also impressed.

SCRIMMAGE SUMMARIES: Led by Nyazamba, the Blue 'A' squad opened the first scrimmage well, with Ryan Maxwell also looking dangerous down the right side. The possession and pressure they were able to generate didn’t translate to many chances, though, and just before halftime the Yellow 'A' side’s Jordan Seabrook scored after a quick free kick driven low into the penalty area was flicked on to him by Aaron Wheeler, and Seabrook finished well.

Seabrook’s Yellow side then played better in the second half as it appeared some on the Blue side faded a little, with Jata doing well in the midfield and former Plant City standout Cheyne Roberts having a good game defensively.

The Yellow 'B' squad came out buzzing in the second scrimmage, putting pressure on their Blue 'B' counterparts with excellent passing moves and runs off the ball. It wasn’t until the first minute of the second half that they scored the only goal, though, Shaka Bengura stealing possession from a defender on the left side of the Blue half before showing excellent composure to curl his right-footed shot from just outside the penalty area into the right corner of the net.

The Blue squad played better as the game went on, forcing a pair of good saves from Ryan Thompson. Blue forward Dwight Barnett worked hard as a lone striker, but it wasn’t until the game began to open up in the second half that it felt like he got the necessary support from his midfield.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cowboys, Indians, Crusaders get bump in latest Coaches Poll

Gaither and East Bay made a jump up the rankings, and Tampa Catholic moved into the poll for the first time, when the Hillsborough County Coaches Boys Soccer Poll was released on Monday night.

Sickles and Plant City remained No.1 and No.2, with the Cowboys moving up one position to No.3 and the Indians vaulting into the No.4 slot from No.7 after a 3-0 win against Durant on Saturday.

The Crusaders, buoyed by their 3-1 win against Tampa Prep on Saturday, entered the poll at No.8. Steinbrenner also moved up to No.6, pushing Jesuit down to No.7.

On the girl’s side, the top six teams remained unchanged, with Plant remaining on top of the poll entering this week’s district playoffs.

There were two changes lower down in the top ten, as Freedom and Wharton exchanged places, the Patriots shifting up to No.7, while Hillsborough and Tampa Prep also switched positions, the Terriers garnering the No.9 position.


1. Sickles (15-1-3)
2. Plant City (11-0-2)
3. Gaither (12-3-1)
4. East Bay (12-2-1)
5. Newsome (11-3-3)
6. Steinbrenner (9-1-1)
7. Jesuit (12-4-3)
8. Tampa Catholic (10-2-4)
9. Berkeley Prep (9-6-1)
10. Tampa Prep (10-4-2)


1. Plant (18-1-1)
2. Berkeley Prep (15-4-2)
3. Bloomingdale (12-4-3)
4. Newsome (12-3-4)
5. Steinbrenner (14-0-2)
6. East Bay (11-3-2)
7. Freedom (9-3-4)
8. Wharton (9-6-4)
9. Hillsborough (11-2-1)
10. Tampa Prep (13-5-4)

A conversation with Rowdies manager Paul Dalglish

On the eve of the Tampa Bay Rowdies final player combine, which begins at the Ed Radice Sports Complex on Tuesday, Rowdies manager Paul Dalglish took a moment to talk about what his experience had been like so far and some of the players the Rowdies were bringing in for the three-day camp, and what he expected to see in the upcoming days.

TBSB: What was your reaction to the disagreement between the USL and NASL being resolved, and the course being set as to when opening day will be?

Paul Dalglish: It was a big relief for everyone that the league situation got sorted out, and I just think everybody’s happy that there was a solution that everyone was happy with, and we’re going to play some football this year. It wouldn’t be nice to think of there being no second tier of football in the United States.

TBSB: Is there anything that has surprised you about becoming a full-time manager?

Dalglish: No, not really. It’s been really hard work, simply because we’re a brand new franchise and obviously all the hard work that had to go in to get the league up and running. Then if you add on to that that we didn’t have any players when we came in, and we have to find a whole squad of players in a short space of time, it’s been very hard work and Andrew (Nestor), Perry (Van Der Beck) and myself have been working tirelessly to give the people in Tampa the very, very best team we can to watch in the upcoming season. I wouldn’t say anything’s surprised me yet, but it’s certainly been hard work.

TBSB: You’re not at liberty to discuss anyone that is either on the verge of being signed, or has been signed already, but is it exciting to have gotten that process underway and know who some of the members of your squad are going to be for the upcoming season?

Dalglish: Yeah, obviously I can’t wait until the official press conference to announce some names, but it is pretty exciting. Going after a recognizable player, going after them and finally getting them, so it’s a really exciting process but it’s also quite complicated when you don’t have any players. You’re looking at players to play with certain players, and then if you don’t get one of those players then you’ve got to change your opinion on the second player, and the picture changes every day. One day someone is available, the next day they’re not, and then you get further down the line negotiating with someone, and then someone else becomes available who may be a better fit for your organization than the person you were originally interested in, so it’s very complex when you’ve got a whole squad to pick, but I’m sure the supporters will be very happy with some of the names we’ve acquired when we announce them.

TBSB: You’ve got 44 players coming in (Tuesday). Of the list, are there any names you can point out that you’re interested to see up close?

Dalglish: We’ve got some senior internationals coming in. We’ve got a player coming in, he’s flown himself in from Japan, called Takuya Yamada. He’s got four caps for the Japanese national team, he’s a veteran player, a veteran of the J-League, but the fact that he’s willing to fly himself to come to our tryouts shows not just the interest in America, but also the interest worldwide in the Rowdies and the desire to come and play for us. Couple of other noticable names, we’ve got (former South Florida standout) Kareem Smith, who went to college in Florida and has five caps for the senior team with Trinidad, and we’ve got some of the guys from UT, Ryan Maxwell, who was drafted last year by the New England Revolution, Ryan Thompson the goalkeeper and Dan Ingvarsson the center back.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Preps: Big Prep Saturday highlighted by Land O' Lakes late winner

If you checked the 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.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bulls enjoying Canadian Under-20 camp

Four members of the South Florida women’s soccer team are currently in camp with the Canadian Under-20 soccer team as the side prepares at USF for the CONCACAF qualifying competition for the FIFA 2010 Under-20 World Cup to be held in Germany.

Midfielder Gina Pacheco said she thought the camp had been going well after the Canadians scrimmaged against local club RSL Florida at the USF practice field on Friday afternoon.

“I think the camp’s going well,” Pacheco said. “Every time we’ve gotten together, we’ve gotten a little bit better as a team. I’m excited for CONCACAF and to see what’s out there. It’s my first time going so I don’t know exactly what to expect, but my hopes are high.”

Pacheco is joined on the 23-player squad by defender Bahar Sansar and midfielders Rehana Murani and Taylore Patterson. The squad will be cut down to 20 players for the tournament, which begins on Wednesday in Costa Rica. While Pacheco and Sansar have had international experience before, both were called in the Canadian senior national team squad last summer for exhibition games against the United States, should Patterson be named it would be the first time she would represent her country at any level.

“It would be amazing,” Patterson said. “I can’t wait. I hope that I’ll be on the plane, starting on the national team for qualifying, but you never know what happens.”

The opportunity for all four to compete for Canada does bode well for the Bulls as well, as Pacheco believes their play is improving.

“I think it will definitely help improve us,” Pacheco said. “We’re actually working together a lot more now with the national team, and with USF it will help us improve as a team.”

Friday, January 15, 2010

USF's Lofton-Malachi drafted, then traded, at WPS draft

South Florida goalkeeper Mallori Lofton-Malachi was selected with the 39th pick of the Women’s Professional Soccer Draft by the Atlanta Beat before being traded to the Philadelphia Independence for University of Georgia forward Carrie Patterson on Friday afternoon.

Lofton-Malachi was a mainstay for the Bulls for the past three seasons, setting records for most career shutouts (18) and goals against average (1.12). She also started 52 consecutive games for the Bulls to conclude her career.

Preps: Newsome's Gutsche commits to Florida

Newsome junior soccer standout Karina Gutsche has committed to the University of Florida, becoming part of the Gators' incoming class for 2011.

Gutsche said that she had been in contact with the Gators since her sophomore year, and was very happy to be joining her former Wolves teammate goalkeeper Kendall Graham as a member of the Gators. Gutsche had a pair of impressive tournaments for club side RSL Florida over the holiday break, and is playing for the Florida Olympic Development Program side in the Region III championships this weekend in New Orleans before returning for next week’s Class 5A-District 8 tournament with Newsome.

“I’m really excited about it,” Gutsche said. “I started talking to them around my sophomore year, and (Graham) told me I should go for it, so I e-mailed them, and it went really well, obviously.”

Gutsche had been considering other schools, including South Florida, Florida Gulf Coast, Saint Leo and Rollins, but said the combination of the quality of school and the soccer tradition at Florida made her decision a relatively easy one.

“It was soccer and school,” Gutsche said. “School always comes first, but it was good that their soccer program is very good as well.”

In addition to Graham, Florida also has former local standouts Jo Dragotta (Gaither), Alicia Nalley (East Lake) on its current roster, with former Sickles standout Caitlin Howard part of the graduating senior class.

Rowdies announce final combine schedule

The Tampa Bay Rowdies have announced the schedule for their final player combine, which will begin on Tuesday afternoon at the Ed Radice Sports Complex.

The format is similar to that of the first combine, the principal difference being the start time, with 1 p.m. starts scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday’s sessions. The final day of the combine will begin at 9 a.m.

Tampa Spartans coach Adrian Bush said in a text message his three graduating All-Americans, goalkeeper Ryan Thompson, defender Dan Ingvarsson and midfielder/forward Pascal Milien would be among the 44 players invited to the combine after none were selected at the MLS Draft on Thursday afternoon.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Preps: Bloomingdale, Newsome set to resume rivalry

It’s a sign of the times that this year’s Bloomingdale-Newsome girls soccer game has its own Facebook event page. The two now non-district rivals meet a 6 p.m. on Friday night at Bloomingdale in the final game for both teams before postseason play begins next week.

For Bloomingdale senior Jordan Johnson the game offers a perfect way for her and her teammates to prepare for the playoffs.

“I think playing Newsome is definitely going to prepare go,” Johnson said. “They’re such a good team, and a good contender to win their district, so to play a good quality team is going to help us play faster, move the ball, and get us ready for Plant next week.”

Johnson points to the Bulls 3-1 loss to the Panthers on Dec. 8 as a key moment in their season. The Bulls led 1-0 in that game before giving up three unanswered goals, teaching the Bulls a lesson about not losing focus. Since then, the Bulls have earned a 2-1 victory against East Bay in the Sarasota Invitational and a 6-0 win against Wharton in their first game back after the holiday break.

“We’ve all been a lot more focused knowing we can’t slack off in any game,” Johnson said. “We knew from that game on that we couldn’t let down at any moment because we were very vulnerable. We knew we had to get back to playing pretty soccer, moving the ball, and I think since Thanksgiving we’ve shown that we’re young, but we’re still a very strong team.”

Preps: Maffei named to Region III squad for European trip

Tampa Prep’s Colby Maffei has been selected to the U.S. Youth Soccer Region III Olympic Development Program’s 1994 squad for its tour to Germany and Holland beginning on March 28 and ending April 5.

Maffei, who went from an alternate to playing in the ODP Thanksgiving Interregional tournament, leads Hillsborough County with 31 goals this season, and was named to the Tribune All-County First Team as a freshman last season.

“I’m proud of myself that I went from an alternate to being on the starting 18,” Maffei said. “It was my second year there, so I wasn’t as nervous, and I could tell from year-to-year that I definitely played so much better this year than last year.”

Region III ODP teams containing local players have made trips abroad in the past, with Bloomingdale’s Jordan Johnson having been selected to a training camp in Portugal last year with the ODP’s 1992 squad, as did Newsome freshman Wesley Gussman with the 1995 ODP team in its trip to Mexico.

Tampa Prep coach Cindy Schofield said she thought being involved in the ODP program had helped Maffei elevate not only her game, but also her leadership skills with the Terrapins and Hillsborough County United.

“Obviously she’ll get the chance to travel outside the country, which is a great experience in itself,” Schofield said, “but she’s playing with the best players in the region, and she’s playing against, really, the best players in the country in her age-group, so her game is going to benefit from it, and I think it’s helping her leadership skills, because she’s taking what she learns there and bringing it back to her club team and her high school team.”

USF's Boggs selected by New England in MLS Draft

South Florida midfielder Zak Boggs was taken by the New England Revolution with the 31st pick in the MLS Draft in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Boggs scored four goals for the Bulls last season, three of which were game-winners, while playing in all 21 games. He was also names as a Lowe’s Senior Class Award Senior All-American.

Boggs will have the opportunity to join other former Bulls in the league, including All-Americans Jeff Cunningham (FC Dallas) and Yohance Marshall (Los Angeles Galaxy), and former U.S. Under-17 and Under-20 national team player Anthony Wallace, who played a season for the Bulls before being drafted by FC Dallas.

Tampa to host U.S. vs. El Salvador, February 24

Tampa will play host to the United States Men’s national team in one of its final tune-ups for the 2010 World Cup as it faces CONCACAF rival El Salvador on Feb. 24 at Raymond James Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., with the game being televised on ESPN Classic and Telefutura.

It will be the first time the U.S. Men have played in Tampa since a March 25, 2007 game against Ecuador. The U.S. won that game 3-1 behind a hat trick from Landon Donovan.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tuesday's round-up: World Cup, Roehn and Hurricane Watch

Tuesday’s big news, of course, was Tampa being named as one of the 18 cities to be included in the United States’ bid for the 2018/2022 World Cups. The Tampa Tribune’s Bill Ward was at the announcement, which had a lot of smiling faces.

In high school action on Tuesday night, Berkeley Prep routed St. Petersburg Catholic 7-1, a win made more significant by Buccaneers standout T.J. Roehn scoring his 100th career goal with a first-half hat trick.

Roehn finished with four on the night, and now sits on 101 goals for his career, needing just another five to break Tyler Davis’ school record of 105. Roehn, who will join the University of South Florida’s program next season, said the biggest thing for the Bucs this season was to continue to have success as they moved into the playoffs.

“The biggest part of the season was just trying to rebuild from last season,” Roehn said. “The main goal is to do as well as we could in the playoffs, and if we do well in the playoffs, the goals will come, so they work together.”

Buccaneers coach Tim Cooper was very happy for his standout striker.

“He’s cruising along,” Cooper said. “He’s gotten on track, and if he can get another couple of goals in the next couple of weeks, he should be there. I’m proud of him.”

Elsewhere on Tuesday night, Mitchell continued its strong season with a 4-1 win against Countryside in the Hurricane Watch tournament hosted by Palm Harbor, but as the St. Petersburg Times’ Bryan Burns writes, the lone goal proved crucial for the Cougars, who will get a rematch with the Mustangs in Friday’s final.

In other Pinellas County news, Palm Harbor will travel to face St. Petersburg for the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship on Friday evening at 6:30 p.m.

Tampa one of 18 cities included in U.S. World Cup bid

Tampa has been selected as one of the 18 cities that will make up the United States’ bid to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup when the list was announced on Tuesday afternoon in New York.

The bid committee, led by former Tampa Bay Rowdies standout Farrukh Quraishi, made its final presentation for the US Bid committed in December along with the other 26 cities vying for a place in the bid.

Nine cities were eliminated from the process today. Should the U.S. be awarded the competition for either year, another six cities would be eliminated, leaving 12 official host cities for the tournament.

Also included in the bid were Miami and Atlanta, with the biggest surprise being the omission of Chicago from the list of 18.

The bid, should it succeed, would likely be the largest in the World Cup’s history. U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said the stadiums available to the bid would allow for an average capacity of 78,000 seats, allowing for over 5 million tickets to be available for the tournament as a whole.

Preps: Sickles up to No.24 in ESPN Rise poll, PHU girls reach No.12

Sickles has moved up seven spots to No.24 in the latest ESPN Rise Boys Soccer rankings after a pair of victories against Gaither and King last week completed a perfect district schedule and gained the Gryphons the No.1 seed in the Class 5A-District 9 tournament.

The Gryphons are joined by Tampa Prep, who re-entered the rankings at No.29 despite a 4-1 setback against Berkeley Prep on Saturday while missing Anthony Bauman and Travis Simmons, and East Lake, which moved up nine spots to No.32 after a 3-0 win against Clearwater last week.

On the girl's side, Palm Harbor University remains the only bay area representative, but is nearing the Top 10, moving up 13 spots to No.12 as the Hurricanes continue their undefeated season.

PHU is now 15-0-1 after a 3-0 win against Countryside and a pair of lopsided victories against Tarpon Springs and Sarasota Riverview last week.

Rowdies announce parnership with MPS Portland Phoenix of PSL

The Tampa Bay Rowdies have announced a partnership with the MPS Portland Phoenix of the United Soccer League’s Professional Development League, which will act as an outlet for the Rowdies to field non-first team players in competitive action and for player identification purposes.

In addition, the Rowdies and Phoenix coaching staffs will collaborate in an effort to align playing and training styles.

“The relationship with MPS is important for FC Tampa Bay Rowdies and will be successful due to the similar mission and philosophy of both clubs,” Rowdies Owner and President Andrew Nestor said in a press release. “We have established an aligned vision for player development that will aid the Rowdies in identifying and developing future professional players.”

Maine Premier Soccer previously fielded the Cape Cod Crusaders, which won PDL championships in 2002 and 2003. Graduates of those sides included Joseph Ngwenya, who won an MLS title in 2007 with the Houston Dynamo, and current MLS players Scott Palgutta (Colorado Rapids) and Kurt Morsink (Kansas City Wizards).

Maine Premier Soccer General Manager Paul Baber said he was excited to enter into the partnership with the Rowdies.

“As a PDL franchise, we have become a conveyor belt for players moving to professional teams both in the US and abroad,” Baber said in the press release. “We look forward to producing players who can become immediate impact players for the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the future.”

Monday, January 11, 2010

Berkeley Prep's Heaberlin named to U.S. Under-17 camp

Berkeley Prep’s Bryane Heaberlin has been named to the U.S. Women’s Under-17 team for their camp in Sunrise later this month as the side prepares for qualification to the FIFA Under-17 World Cup later this year in Trinidad and Tobago.

The training camp opens on Jan. 27 and runs through Feb. 6, meaning should Berkeley advance to the region playoffs after the Class 3A-District 10 tournament next week, they would potentially miss their standout goalkeeper for the entire region tournament.

Heaberlin said she was glad that her teammates were as understanding as they were, but was disappointed she would miss out on the region playoffs.

“It was very disappointing,” Heaberlin said. “It’s a really hard situation to be in.”

The Under-17’s will be playing the German Under-17 team three times as it prepares for the CONCACAF qualifying tournament, which begins on March 9 in San Jose, Costa Rica. Heaberlin said she was looking forward to the camp, and was focused on continuing to play well to make the qualifying squad.

“I definitely feel as though if I keep working hard and playing consistently well that I will solidify my spot at No.1 and hopefully make the qualifying team,” Heaberlin said.

In other national team news, Plant City’s Omar Castro has been named to a 36-player U.S. Boys Under-14 national team squad that will travel to Guadalajara, Mexico on Sunday for an eight-day training camp.

Once in Mexico, the squad will split into two groups that will train and play against local opposition. Castro, who plays for the Plant City Area Soccer Club, previously played for the Region III Olympic Development Program at the Disney Junior Soccer Showcase, putting in a series of impressive performances.

Preps: Wharton Invitational schedule announced

The draw for this year’s Wharton Invitational has been announced, with the Pool D draw that will see current Coaches Poll No.1 face No.5 Newsome appearing the standout game of the first round.

Host Wharton has been drawn in the same pool as current poll No.2 and undefeated Plant City. The Raiders could also have the possibility of facing Sickles in the final should both sides find their way through the draw, which also sees Pasco County’s Land O’ Lakes included this season.

The tournament begins this Saturday at the Temple Terrace Spirit Fields on Highway 301, and will return to Wharton High’s stadium for Wednesday’s semifinals and Thursday’s final. The complete schedule is listed below.

2010 Wharton Invitational
At Temple Terrace Spirit Fields

Highway 301
Pool play

Pool A

Saturday, Jan. 16
Wharton vs. Hillsborough, 3:45 p.m.
Lennard vs. Plant City, 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 19
Wharton vs. Lennard, 8 a.m.
Hillsborough vs. Plant City 8 a.m.
Hillsborough vs. Lennard, noon
Wharton vs. Plant City, 2 p.m.

Pool B

Saturday, Jan. 16
Freedom vs. Alonso, 3:45 p.m.
East Bay vs. Durant, 3:45 p.m.
Alonso vs. East Bay, 7:45 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 19
Freedom vs. East Bay, 8 p.m.
Alonso vs. Durant, 10 a.m.
Freedom vs. Durant, 4 p.m.

Pool C

Saturday, Jan. 16
Plant vs. Land O’ Lakes, 5:45 p.m.
Bloomingdale vs. King, 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan 19
Plant vs. Bloomingdale, 10 a.m.
Land O’ Lakes vs. King, 10 a.m.
Plant vs. King, 2 p.m.
Land O’ Lakes vs. Bloomingdale, 2 p.m.

Pool D

Saturday, Jan.16
Newsome vs. Brandon, 7:45 p.m.
Strawberry Crest vs. Sickles, 7:45 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 19
Newsome vs. Strawberry Crest, noon
Sickles vs. Brandon, noon
Newsome vs. Sickles, 4 p.m.
Brandon vs. Strawberry Crest, 4 p.m.

At Wharton High
Wednesday, Jan. 20
Pool A winner vs. Pool B winner, 6 p.m.
Pool C winner vs. Pool D winner, 8 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 21

Semifinals winners, 8 p.m.

Preps: Sickles, Plant retain No.1 spots

Sickles high’s boys and Plant high’s girls retained their top spots in the first Hillsborough County Soccer Coaches poll of the new year after both posted a pair of wins as the high school season resumed last week.

Still undefeated, Plant City’s boys moved up to the No.2 spot, while Jesuit dropped three places to No.6 after its loss to Steinbrenner on Friday night. The Warriors’ win wasn’t enough to jump them over the Tigers, though, as they moved up two spots to No.8.

No.3 Tampa Prep’s loss to Berkeley Prep on Saturday afternoon did not appear to be taken into consideration by the voters this week, as the result did not appear in either school’s listed record for the poll.

Gaither, which Sickles defeated 2-1 last Tuesday before beating Freedom 3-0 on Friday night, and Newsome, who will be the No.2 seed to Plant City in the Class 5A-District 8 tournament, round out the top five on the boys side.

Still absent from the boys top 10, though, is Plant, which defeated Alonso on Friday night to earn the No.1 seed in Class 6A-District 8.

Berkeley Prep’s impressive pair of wins against North Broward Prep and Tampa Prep allowed the Buccaneers to retain the No.2 spot in the girls poll, with Bloomingdale also holding steady at No.3. Newsome and Steinbrenner switched places from the final poll of 2009, the Warriors looking to complete an undefeated regular season when they face Strawberry Crest on Friday night.

The complete polls are listed below:


1. Sickles (14-1-2)
2. Plant City (10-0-2)
3. Tampa Prep (8-2-1)
4. Gaither (12-3-1)
5. Newsome (10-3-2)
6. Jesuit (10-3-3)
7. East Bay (9-2-1)
8. Steinbrenner (9-1-1)
9. Wharton (6-3-2)
10. Berkeley Prep (7-6-0)


1. Plant (18-1-1)
2. Berkeley Prep (12-4-2)
3. Bloomingdale (12-4-2)
4. Newsome (12-3-3)
5. Steinbrenner (13-0-2)
6. East Bay (11-3-2)
7. Wharton (9-6-3)
8. Freedom (9-3-3)
9. Tampa Prep (9-5-4)
10. Hillsborough (11-2-1)