Prior to Feb. 15, the Clermont East Ridge and Ridge Community boys varsity soccer teams had not been on the wrong side of a clean sheet this season simultaneously.
In fact, scoring goals was a strong suit for both clubs. East Ridge was blanked once in its first 21 matches – a 2-0 defeat to Class 4A state semifinalist Bishop Moore in the Nov. 11 opener – and Ridge Community registered at least one regulation goal in each of its opening 19 games.
However, the odds caught up to them during the Class 7A regional semifinals.
The Knights’ 2019-20 campaign ended with a 1-0 home loss to Lakewood Ranch, while the Bolts made the trip to Lutz where the result was a 1-0 victory for Steinbrenner High. Coincidentally, the Mustangs and Warriors both netted the game-deciding goals in the first half.
East Ridge concluded a memorable 17-4-1 season that featured a 16-match unbeaten streak, while Ridge Community’s successful campaign included a 14-5-1 mark and an appearance in the Polk County League Champions Cup final.
East Ridge (which defeated third-seeded Newsome 4-0 in the regional quarterfinals) and Lakewood Ranch (a 4-1 regional quarterfinal winner at No. 2 seed West Orange) represented a matchup of the Nos. 6 and 7 seeds in Class 7A-Region 2.
Leading 1-0 at halftime on an Aiden Holzborn goal, Lakewood Ranch withstood sustained pressure from the Knights over the last 20 minutes. East Ridge’s Leyson Vargas had a free kick in the attacking half with two minutes left that resulted in a close call near the goal, and one minute later the Knights sent a shot attempt at Mustangs goalkeeper Michael Plechy (12 saves) that sailed just over the crossbar.
Karo Gilliam’s goal proved the difference for Steinbrenner High against Ridge Community. The Bolts wound up winning two of their final seven matches, a stretch that began with a shootout loss to George Jenkins in the Champions Cup final on Jan. 17.
As for Lakewood Ranch, the Mustangs earned a 2-0 decision over Steinbrenner last Wednesday for their third consecutive regional win on the road.
FACA All-Star Soccer
The Florida Athletic Coaches Association 2020 All-Star Soccer Classics will be held next month at Celebration High School’s La Rosa Field.
Celebration’s Chad Boudreaux was reportedly selected to coach the East All-Stars when the boys event takes place Saturday, March 7, and Sunday, March 8. The East faces the West (5 p.m.) and the North plays the South (7 p.m.) on March 7, while the Day 2 schedule features a pair of morning contests at 9 a.m. (East vs. South) and 11 a.m. (North vs. West).
The girls tournament starts (March 6) and finishes (March 7) one day earlier at Celebration High.
On March 6, the East squares off against the West at 5 p.m. and that will be followed by the North-South match at 7 p.m. The East-South and North-West games are set for March 7 at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., respectively.
Player rosters were unavailable as of press time but visit the Florida Athletic Coaches Association website for additional information. The Florida High School Athletic Association girls and boys state soccer championships are scheduled for Feb. 26-29 at Spec Martin Stadium in DeLand.
Girls weightlifting state finals
The FHSAA Class 2A girls weightlifting state championships were held Feb. 15 at Arnold High School in Panama City Beach, where Maria Hincapie and Victoria Kyles represented Celebration High.
Kyles finished seventh out of 20 Unlimited Division competitors with a total lift of 380 pounds, which included 215 pounds in the bench press and 165 in the clean and jerk. Hincapie (145 bench press, 165 clean and jerk) placed just outside the top 10 in the 169-pound division and was one of two participants to register a 310 total lift.
Kyles and Hincapie both made the switch to the track and field season shortly thereafter. Kyles led the way in the girls shot put at the Bob Mosher Wildcat Open – held Feb. 17 at Showalter Field in Winter Park – with a throw of 35 feet, 10.5 inches. Hincapie finished sixth in the girls discus at 75 feet, 4 inches.