Area soccer teams look to avoid Jacksonville jinx


Published: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 11:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 11:31 p.m.

A season ago the Jacksonville area proved it had the upper hand on the Gainesville area when it came to postseason girls soccer. Seven Gainesville Sun area schools reached to the 2009 FHSAA regional playoffs, with six teams losing in the opening round. Five of those clubs fell to a Jacksonville area team, by a combined score of 28-2.

Facts

Girls Soccer Regional Quarterfinal Capsules

(all games start at 7 p.m. unless otherwise indicated)

WHO: Tallahassee Chiles (12-8-1) at Buchholz (17-4-0), Citizens Field
WHAT: Region 1-5A
WHAT'S NEXT: Buchholz would host Orange Park Fleming Island or travel to Tallahassee Lincoln for Tuesday's regional semifinals; Chiles would travel to either school.
FREE KICK: The Bobcats are making their 11th consecutive regional-playoff appearance; Chiles is making its fourth straight playoff trip and its eighth in the last nine years. This is the first playoff meeting between the two schools.

WHO: Harmony (12-3-1) at Eastside (22-1-0), Citizens Field 5 p.m.
WHAT: Region 2-4A
WHAT'S NEXT: Eastside would host Eustis or Belleview in Tuesday's regional semifinals; Harmony would host Belleview or travel to Eustis.
FREE KICK: The Rams are making their third straight trip to the regional playoffs and their 15th appearance in the last 17 years. Eastside is looking for its first playoff win since 2002; This is Harmony's first playoff appearance.

WHO: Keystone Heights (13-7-1) at Jacksonville Bolles (12-7-1)
WHAT: Region 1-3A
WHAT'S NEXT: Keystone Heights would host Jacksonville Episcopal or travel to Jacksonville Bishop Snyder for Tuesday's regional semifinals; Bolles would host either school.
FREE KICK: The Indians are in the regional playoffs for the seventh straight season and the 10th time in the last 11 years. The Bulldogs are making their 20th straight regional-playoff
appearance. Bolles won the FHSAA Class 3A state title in 2008 and were the Class 3A runners-up last year. Bolles is also 2-0 versus Keystone Heights in the playoffs.

WHO: Crystal River (14-6-1) at Suwannee (16-0-2)
WHAT: Region 2-3A
WHAT'S NEXT: Suwannee would host Ocala Trinity Catholic or Santa Fe in Tuesday's regional semifinals; Crystal River would host Santa Fe or travel to Trinity Catholic.
FREE KICK: Suwannee brings its undefeated record to its first playoff-appearance since 2007 and its first home playoff game since 2004; This is Crystal River's first playoff appearance.

WHO: Santa Fe (11-6-1) at Ocala Trinity Catholic (16-2-2)
WHAT: Region 2-3A
WHAT'S NEXT: Santa Fe would travel to Suwannee or Crystal River for Tuesday's regional semifinals; Trinity Catholic would travel to Suwannee or host Crystal River.
FREE KICK: The Raiders are in the regional playoffs for the third consecutive season and they are in search of their first tournament victory; Trinity Catholic is in the playoffs for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. The Celtics reached the Class 3A state semifinals a year ago. This is the first playoff meeting between the two schools.

WHO: P.K. Yonge (15-3-2) at Tallahassee Maclay (18-1-3)
WHAT: Region 1-2A
WHAT'S NEXT: P.K. Yonge would host Tallahassee John Paul II or travel to St. Francis for Tuesday's regional semifinals; Maclay would host either school.
FREE KICK: P.K. Yonge is in the regional playoffs for the fifth consecutive season and for the seventh time in the last eight years. The Blue Wave are looking for their first tournament victory since 2004; This is Maclay's 17th straight regional-playoff appearance. The Marauders have been regional finalists in each of the last two seasons. This is the first playoff meeting between the two schools.

WHO: Tallahassee John Paul II (13-5-1) at St. Francis (14-3-2)
WHAT: Region 1-2A
WHAT'S NEXT: St. Francis would host P.K. Yonge or travel to Tallahassee Maclay for Tuesday's regional semifinals; John Paul II would travel to either school.
FREE KICK: St. Francis is in the regional playoffs for the third consecutive season and is in search of its first tournament victory; John Paul II is in the regional playoffs for the fifth straight season. This is the first playoff meeting between the two schools.

The good news for six of the seven area teams that have regional-quarterfinal matches tonight is that its opponent does not hail from the Jacksonville area. Ironically, the only area team to win a regional-quarterfinal match last winter was Keystone Heights (a 2-1 winner over Umatilla). This evening, the Indians travel to state power Jacksonville Bolles, the FHSAA Class 3A state champs in 2008 and the 3A runners-up last year.

Due to the FHSAA’s re-organization of the classifications and districts, this year’s bunch of seven area teams could fare better than last year’s group.

“The talent level is the same, they (Jacksonville and Orlando areas) just have more players,” said Buchholz first-year coach Jim Peterson. “We’re thinned out, we’re a small area divided by a handful of schools. It is a numbers game.”

But the number of recent regional-quarterfinal wins for the seven area playoff teams are not favorable. Keystone Heights is the only club with first-round victories in each of the last two seasons. Buchholz is looking for its first playoff win since 2007, P.K. Yonge and Suwannee are in search of a first playoff victory since 2004 and Eastside is gunning for its first postseason win since 2002. Santa Fe and St. Francis have yet to win a regional playoff contest.

However, the games are not played with the numbers that appear on paper.

“I definitely see some of our area teams moving on,” said Peterson, a former Bobcats assistant coach before being elevated to head coach this season. “We’re going the Tallahassee way and I think we have a a better chance. It is not that they aren’t strong, I think they are in the same predicament as we are, a thinned out area.”

The Bobcats (17-4-0), whose main problem has been injuries to several key players in recent seasons according to Peterson, host Tallahassee Chiles in a Region 1-5A quarterfinal tonight at 7 at Citizens Field.

P.K. Yonge is also matched up with a team from the state capital as the Blue Wave (15-3-2) travels to face Maclay in a Region 1-2A quarterfinal. Not facing a Jacksonville area team was especially good news for Pauline Hazan’s club, which has lost to Episcopal in the first round in each of the last four seasons by a combined score of 27-2.

“In the past, it seems like (facing Epsicopal) has been a mental roadblock for us,” Hazan said. “Going into a new region, kind of gives you hope, so you don’t have to think of the past.”

Another positive for the Blue Wave is that they played Maclay to a scoreless tie in their regular-season finale two weeks ago. St. Francis (14-3-2) also plays host to a Tallahassee club as John Paul II comes to Gainesville.

Eastside (22-1-0) will be the first area team to hit the pitch this evening as the Rams face Harmony at 5 in the first game of a doubleheader at Citizens Field.

“I definitely think the area can do some good things,” said Eastside first-year coach Emily Ott. “It is a very exciting time for Gainesville area soccer.”

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