Three public schools win FHSAA girls soccer titles for second straight year
By Official Florida FC
Three public schools won their first FHSAA soccer championships last week in DeLand.
Cape Coral Mariner capped off a season for the ages by winning the Class 5A state championship. Neptune Beach Fletcher emerged from the lion’s den that is greater Jacksonville soccer to win the Class 6A title. In Class 7A, St. Johns Creekside ensured the championship for Florida’s largest classification remained on Longleaf Pine Parkway.
Here is a look back at the six title clinching matches.
Class 5A: Mariner 2- Naples 0
Gloria Quintanilla may be one of the smallest people on the pitch. But, the 4-foot-11-inch junior midfielder was imposing when it mattered most. She scored the opening goal and assisted the title-clincher in Friday’s FHSAA Class 5A final.
Quintanilla assisted senior Brooke Yount’s 38th minute goal for the opener. She finished the game, and the Tritons’ first state championship in the 65th when she found the bottom corner on a counterattack.
Mariner (22-3) capped off an incredible ride to the deep waters of Florida high school soccer.
Mariner had never advanced to a state semifinal before this year. The Tritons’ last appearance in a regional final was a decade ago.
The Tritons won the games that mattered. Naples (16-4-4) beat them in January. North Fort Myers beat them in the regular season and the district playoffs. Mariner beat both en route to its first state championship.
Class 6A: Fletcher 1- Lourdes 0
Duval County has its state soccer champion. Fletcher pulled off its third straight upset to win the Class 6A state championship.
The Senators (18-5-2) withstood heavy pressure from Miami Lourdes, but resolutely defended long enough to get the goal it needed to take the trophy back with them to the beach.
Angelina Madera’s 63nd minute goal appeared to come from nothing. But, that is what the Senators did in their wins over Fleming Island, Viera and in Friday’s state final: conjure chances from nothing and finish them ruthlessly.
Fletcher scored its game-winning goal after the hour mark in its regional final win over Fleming Island, its state semifinal win over Viera and in the final.
Class 7A: Creekside 3- Cypress Bay 1
The Knights were healthy at the right time of year and it paid off for them in a big way.
Creekside (19-3-1) won its first FHSAA girls soccer title on Friday afternoon following two goals from sophomore midfielder Avery Robinson. Avery opened the scoring in the 18th minute. She added a second in the 52nd minute to break the halftime deadlock.
Cypress Bay’s Hannah Mason scored in the 38th minute to make the halftime team talk interesting for both squads. Creekside had not been tied at halftime during any point of its run to the final, and Cypress Bay had been blown off the pitch in its losses in the 2020 and 2021 finals.
Creekside won the first 15 minutes of the second half and the trophy. Knights forward Paige McSwigan finished off the game five minutes later with her ninth goal in 15 games this season.
In two of the last three years, Creekside soccer seasons ended in part because some of its best players were missing through injury. That was not the case this year. Goalkeeper Amaya Logan picked up a knock late in the regular season that kept her out for a few games, but senior Anna Laughlin was more than capable of filling in between the pipes until Logan returned in a Feb. 11 regional semifinal win over reigning Class 7A state champion St. Johns Bartram Trail.
The Lightning (16-5-1) have allowed 27 goals over the last three seasons. St. Johns County programs scored 12 of them in the final.
Class 4A: Bishop Moore 4 – American Heritage 2
Bishop Moore (18-3-2) has relied on a balanced attack all season long and brough that approach with them to DeLand. Four different Hornets scored during a back-and-forth game where Bishop Moore trailed twice.
American Heritage sophomore forward Isabella Larriu scored her team-leading 17th goal in the 15th minute to give the Stallions (13-2-2) an early lead. That advantage lasted four minutes.
Bishop Moore sophomore Amelia Miller scored the equalizer in the 19th. American Heritage retook the lead when Cheyenne Lam converted from the penalty spot.
Prior to Larriu’s goal, the Hornets had not conceded a goal in the district, regional or state playoffs. Wednesday was the second straight year Larriu scored the opening goal in a state final, and the second straight year the Stallions lost.
Bishop Moore’s Madison Gellner scored in the 35th to ensure both squads were on level terms at intermission. Goals from co-captain Victoria Pou in the 58th minute and freshman Sienna Rivera in the 61st allowed the Hornets to win their sixth state championship in program history.
Class 3A: Lakeland Christian 2 – Benjamin 1
Lakeland Christian (22-2-3) repeated as Class 3A state champions. The Vikings played a challenging schedule and used those trials to see off a determined Palm Beach Gardens Benjamin program that finished 16-2-1 and made its first appearance in a state final.
Lakeland Christian midfielder Kaelyn Diaz opening the scoring in the 43rd minute with her 11th goal of the season. Seven minutes later, Ori Gotaucco’s goal gave the Vikings a two-goal advantage.
The Vikings conceded two goals only twice this season – to eventual Class 4A champion Bishop Moore and the 2021 Class 7A champion St. Johns Bartram Trail.
Benjamin leading scorer Lily White pulled one back in the 61st minute, but it was not enough to deny the repeat.
Class 2A: St. Johns Country Day 2- Shorecrest Prep 0
The Spartans had to wait, and wait and wait some more. But, the goals came, just as they had in each of the last 10 years. Senior Julia Boaventura scored in the 56th and 61st minute to break the deadlock.
St. Johns Country Day (19-3-1) won its 11th consecutive state title and 14th in program history. The Spartans are one title behind Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas for the most championships in state history.