Monday, February 7, 2011
...And then there were three.
Three teams and three chances for Manatee County to keep its streak alive at the state soccer final four.
Lakewood Ranch, Southeast and Saint Stephen's (captained by Chris Scott, seen above in a photo snapped by Herald photographer Paul Videla) will look to add to the chain today when they play in regional semifinals.
The Mustangs head to Lutz to face the Steinbrenner Warriors at 7 p.m. in a Class 4A-Region 3 semifinal, and the Falcons stay at Turner Fields to play host to Tampa Prep, the defending state champion, for a 2A-Region 3 semifinal scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m.
The Seminoles travel to Fort Myers Bishop Verot for a 3A-Region 3 semifinal at 7 p.m.
It's up to them to keep the fledgling tradition going.
So who got this ball rolling? In 2009, Palmetto's boys team became the first Manatee County squad to reach a state semifinal, and repeated the feat the following year.
The Falcons, who had already won six regional crowns and a state title (2001), joined the Tigers that year.
Last year, Lakewood Ranch's girls team qualified for the final four for the first time in program history.
Will the Falcons, Seminoles or Mustangs keep it going? Here is a quick sampling of the matchups.
Class 4A-Region 3 semifinal
Who: Lakewood Ranch (19-4-3) at Lutz Steinbrenner (16-4-2)
When: 7 p.m.
Up next: Winner advances to the Region 3 final against either Naples Golden Gate or Cape Coral.
Of note After being stung by sixth-seeded Palmetto in the District 10 final, the Mustangs rebounded with a thrilling 3-2 victory over perenially powerful Tampa Jesuit. Similar to Lakewood Ranch, the Warriors made the regional tournament via the runner-up route. Led by two goals from Oliver Ortiz, two-year-old Steinbrenner knocked off the Tigers 3-0 during a regional quarterfinal last week.
Class 3A-Region 3 semifinal
Who: Southeast (13-1-4) at Fort Myers Bishop Verot (20-3)
When: 7 p.m.
Up next: Winner advances to the Region 3 final against Tampa Berkeley Prep or Clearwater Central Catholic.
Of note: The Noles kept their season alive in thrilling fashion Thursday by erasing a 1-0 deficit with under 20 minutes remaining before beating Gateway Charter on penalty kicks. Tonight they face the Vikings, who are looking to repeat as Class 3A state champions despite losing 13 seniors. Andrew Palumbo, who scored twice in a quarterfinal win over Cardinal Mooney, has 34 goals this season.
Class 2A-Region 3 semifinal
Who: Tampa Prep (17-4-1) at Saint Stephen's (17-3-2)
When 3:30 p.m.
Up next: Winner advances to the Region 3 final against either Fort Myers Evangelical Christian or Vero Beach St. Edwards.
Of note: This matchup has become a tradition, with the teams meeting in the playoffs every year since 2005. The edge belonged to the Terrapins until '09, when the Falcons beat them for the Region 3 title. Tampa Prep exacted revenge, however, in last year's regional quarterfinals, and won this year's regular-season meeting.
But the Falcons have exceeded the expectations of their head coach, Marc Jones, and overcame a series of injuries to win a district title and vanquish Spring Hill Bishop McLaughlin during last year's quarterfinal.
Now they will try to topple the Terps, and try to keep a streak alive.
Posted by Bradenton Herald at 9:40 PM