by Jonathan Stone
The countdown to the 2018-19 Soccer District Tournaments is well and truly underway. Seedings are starting to be decided and ties are forming as teams finish out the last handful of games of the ‘League’ season.
With it being the start of the year, only a handful of games have taken place – with not much affecting the outcome of where teams stand heading into the final tournament. In 3A District 7 the forthcoming head to head battle between Zephyrhills and Hernando will decide who takes away the number 6 and 7 seedings. That head to head, taking place at Hernando High School will allow both programs a chance to battle it out for the right to take on Wesley Chapel (3) and possibly an easier route to the final 2?
With that in mind Hernando owes some thanks to Weeki Wachee with Seth Tarbox (So) and Rafael Garcia (So) both needing two a piece in midweek to leave the Bulldogs rooted to the foot of the table. It is the Hornets who will face Springstead Eagles in the first round of District play with them wrapping up number 4 and 5 seeds between them. Final games for both teams will decide who is number 4 as we enter District play.
The Eagles came up against Wesley Chapel on Friday night as they ran away with a 6-0 defeat for the Eagles condemning them to back to back District losses. A hat trick from Alan Castro (Sr) setting the Wild Cats on the way to victory with Ayden Roysdon (Fr), Simon Gallan (Sr) and Seth Wood (Jr) all netting a goal a piece to wrap up 3rd place for Coach Bybee’s team.
Nature Coast Tech got their district year off to a winning start behind a 6-4 victory at home to the aforementioned Wild Cats. Despite back to back hat tricks from Alan Castro (Sr) it wasn’t enough to stop Vinny Stulec (Sr), and his Sharks walking away with the 3 points.
At the top of the table and the number 1 seed will go to either Nature Coast or Pasco. Yet to play each other at the home of the Sharks for the final time this season, this fixture will decide who gets a bye in the first round of district and who has the unfortunate task of having to quite possibly play 3 games to make it to the Regional tournament.
On the girls’ side of the district Coach Shrader’s Hernando team is on a roll with 3 wins on the bounce. Back to back District 3-0 victories against Weeki Wachee and Pasco sandwiched a non district 2-1 victory on the road to Gulf of Hudson, which has set them up nicely as they take huge strides towards the end of the season. Leapfrogging above Springstead in the standings on the way.
Unbeaten Wesley Chapel currently lead the way and with 3 District games left to play against Hernando, Nature Coast and Weeki Wachee will they be able to hold out for a 12-0 district record and take home the number 1 seed and a Friday night off?
Chasing down the number 2 seed is Nature Coast and Weeki Wachee – could that loss at the Leopards cost them a place at number 2? The upcoming tie for them at Wesley Chapel could well ensure that they are only able to finish 3rd in the table.
For Coach Wern at Springstead it’s a 0-2 run to start out 2019 before they travel to Nature Coast. However some great performances prior to the Christmas break would be a good turnaround as the team closes out the 2019 district season this week before facing off against Citrus and Central in non district play.
Speaking of Central and on the Ladies side it is a unhappy start to 2019 with defeats on the road at Umatilla and Crystal River overshadowing what was great results against Dunnellon and South Sumter before the new year. With Central always prepared for a battle they won’t make it easy for South Sumter who travel to the Bears this week.
Mr. Stone is the head coach of Hernando High School Boys Soccer team.