Celebration - Windermere soccer

The Celebration Storm are among the teams competing in Class 7A-District 6. Pictured is Sophia Lazari.

The Class 7A-District 6 group is of particular local interest as Florida High School Athletic Association district soccer tournaments soon get underway.

One reason being the varsity programs at Ridge Community, Haines City and Celebration high schools make up 50 percent of the district, increasing the likelihood that an area girls or boys team will qualify for the regional tournament. The FHSAA remained on track to start district play during the opening week of February, with this Saturday (Jan. 30) marking the final date for regular-season matches.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic prompted a modification to the winter sports season that included a waiver of team and individual minimum contest requirements. District tournament seedings in all classes for soccer will also be based on FHSAA Power Rankings with district champions and runners-up advancing to the regional round, which for the 2020-21 season is set to begin with quarterfinal matches on Feb. 16 (girls) and Feb. 17 (boys).

Another reason to keep tabs on 7A-6 stems from the aforementioned power rankings, which the FHSAA updated on Jan. 20.

Ridge Community High’s boys team (15.159) helped lead the charge with a No. 17 overall ranking in the state as well as the seventh-best rating in Class 7A. The Bolts improved to 9-0-0 with last Wednesday’s 7-0 victory over Groveland South Lake, which came five days after head coach Micheal Blethen’s squad used a six-goal second half to defeat Bartow 7-1 in the Polk County League Champions Cup tournament final.

Ridge Community, which outscored its opening nine opponents by a combined 51-9 margin as junior Juan Brito collected 13 goals and four assists over a seven-match span, continued to stay within reach of Orlando Cypress Creek with regard to the top seed in District 6. The Bears, who are not scheduled to face Ridge Community during the regular season, had a 16.576 power rating as of last week.

Celebration’s 10.761 rating left the Storm with the third-highest mark in District 6 – followed by Orlando Freedom (9.504), Osceola High (7.171) and Haines City (2.116). Celebration went unbeaten through its opening 12 matches, but a 1-0 loss to Cypress Creek on Jan. 15 left the Storm with a 7-1-5 overall record.

The Storm were scheduled to play three matches in five days - St. Cloud (Jan. 21), Four Corners Upper School (Jan. 22) and Timber Creek (Jan. 25) – but results were unavailable at press time. Meanwhile, Haines City won nine of its first 14 games and reached the Polk County League Alliance Cup final against All Saints’ Academy (2-1 loss).

Updated girls soccer rankings were also posted on Jan. 20 as Ridge Community was 20th in Class 7A with a 11.951 rating. That mark left the Bolts well atop the District 6 standings with Freedom (2.451), Cypress Creek (-0.459), Celebration (-6.199), Haines City (-12.110) and Osceola (-14.534) completing the group.

Ridge Community put together an impressive 11-3-1 start that featured wins on consecutive days last week against Harmony and Lakeland. Noemi Casique recorded two goals and one assist and Jamie White, Olivia Nixon and Perla Calderon scored goals in support of goalkeeper Rena Neal (four saves) as the Bolts blanked Lakeland 5-0 on Jan. 20.

Casique had 20 goals and 11 assists in 14 matches this season. The Bolts were slated to face Haines City last Thursday in the season’s first meeting between the neighboring rivals, but results were unavailable at press time.

Celebration notched four wins and one draw in its opening 10 matches, but the Storm endured a recent 0-3-1 stretch that included a shutout loss to host Windermere High on Jan. 20 at Deputy Scott Pine Community Park. As of this writing, the Storm’s remaining regular-season schedule featured a matchup against Poinciana on Tuesday (Jan. 26).

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