By Official Florida FC
For varsity soccer teams in Florida, four months of training and playing has led to DeLand’s Spec Martin Stadium for the FHSAA state championships.
This week, state championships will be awarded in six classifications. Of the 24 programs who are descending on the campus of Stetson University there are plenty of storylines to follow.
|Class 2A||Tallahassee Maclay (22-0) vs. St. Petersburg Shorecrest Prep||Feb. 27, 1 p.m.|
|Class 3A||Tampa Catholic (23-1-2) vs. Fort Lauderdale University (20-0-2)||Feb. 27, 4 p.m.|
|Class 4A||Gulliver Prep (14-7-4) vs. Cape Coral Mariner (25-4-1)||Feb. 27, 7 p.m.|
|Class 5A||Tampa Jesuit (23-3-2) vs. Pembroke Pines Charter (18-2-2)||Feb. 29, 1 p.m.|
|Class 6A||Niceville (24-0-2) vs. South Broward (18-4-2)||Feb. 29, 4 p.m.|
|Class 7A||Orlando Boone (16-3-2) vs. Boca Raton (27-0-0-)||Feb. 29, 7 p.m.|
No one will be playing to retain their title; however, some familiar programs will be looking to add to their trophy cabinet. Two-time state champion Tallahassee Maclay and six-time champion Boca Raton will look to cap off historic seasons. Meanwhile, Niceville and Cape Coral Mariner are in the title game for the first time.
Here is a preview of each championship game.
Orlando Boone is in its first boys soccer final in 40 years. Sebastian Salazar’s header 10 minutes from full time lifted the Braves (16-3-2) into Saturday night’s Class 7A final against Boca Raton (27-0-0).
Boca Raton is one of four boys soccer teams that will try to finish the season unbeaten. The Bobcats, state champions in 1990, 2010 and 2016 have conceded three goals all season.
South Broward (18-4-2) advanced to its first state final with a dramatic road win over Lakeland George Jenkins on Feb. 22.
Francisco Coentras Jr. scored two goals — one with four minutes remaining in regulation and another with 30 seconds remaining in the second overtime — to win 2-1. The Bulldogs will face undefeated Niceville (24-0-2) on Saturday afternoon. The winner will claim their first state championship.
Niceville finished the regular season as the No. 1 team in the final FHSAA rankings. The Eagles can win goal-fests and cagey contests as evidenced by their 4-4 tie with Tallahassee Lincoln on Jan. 24 and a penalty kick win over Neptune Beach Fletcher on Feb. 15 after the Eagles and visitors were tied at 5-all.
One of Florida’s preeminent powers is back in the FHSAA finals. Tampa Jesuit (23-3-2) will play for its seventh state championship against Pembroke Pines Charter.
The Jaguars (18-2-2) advanced to their first state final after beating Naples Lely 7-6 in penalty kicks. Henry Guzman made a save and Jack Simpkin put the ball home to send Pembroke Pines Charter to the Class 5A final.