Bobcats confident in making it to the state tournament


Buchholz's Kim Sapienza (9) maneuvers around an Eastside defender.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Sunday, January 16, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 17, 2011 at 12:03 a.m.

After graduating nine seniors from last year's team that advanced to the Class 5A, Region 1 final and ended with a 19-5-0 mark, there was some uncertainty heading into this season for the Buchholz High School girls soccer program.

But any thoughts of doubt surrounding the 2010-11 version of the Bobcats quickly disappeared as coach Jim Peterson's club opened the season 4-1, and hasn't tasted defeat since.

Buchholz finished the regular season with a 17-1-1 record and enters today's District 4-5A tournament at Orange Park Ridgeview as the top seed. The Bobcats will be gunning for their second straight district title and their fourth in the last five years.

A major reason Buchholz is in the position it's in is because of the play of Kim Sapienza and Havana Solaun, both Florida commitments.

“Going into our senior year I was definitely nervous because I wasn't sure what was going to happen to the team,” Solaun said. “After losing nine seniors, I didn't know what it would be like, but it definitely turned out a lot stronger than I thought it would.”

Despite missing 10 games due to extra training sessions and playing with her club team, Solaun, who also handles chores on her family's farm, has 13 goals and 11 assists. Her current and future teammate and close friend, Sapienza has netted 26 goals and added six assists. The 5-foot-9 Solaun is a forward and is expected to play there at UF, while the 5-foot-6 Sapienza, who plays up top with Solaun for the Bobcats, is projected as a defender for the Gators.

With two Division I players leading the Buchholz scoring attack, and another, Alex Stanojev, a Stetson commitment, at midfield, it has been an enjoyable season for the Bobcats.

“It has been a lot of fun,” said Sapienza, who suffered a torn meniscus and missed most of last season. “I have been able to play up top with Havana, which has always been something I have wanted to do. We both make each other look good.”

It has been a good move by Peterson, who is in eighth year with Buchholz, his second as head coach, and believes in having his best two ball strikers up front.

“Kim is primarily a defender and she reads the game great, she gets open, she finds space, she has great touch and she can put the ball on goal,” Peterson said. “Havana, on the other hand has always been a sniper and she can score goals and now you have two of them up there playing off of each other and they read each other so well.

“With Alex holding down the midfield, everything else looks pretty solid. I would hate to be any coach going up against three Division-I players.”

Peterson said his defense, led by Carly Anderson, who was recently sidelined with an ACL tear, along with Allison Wilde, Alicia Smith and Jessie Barnes, has been solid all year. Goalkeepers Susan Stanfil and Carolyn Fouts have been effective in net, as just four teams have scored a combined nine goals against the Bobcats this winter.

A year ago, the Bobcats overcame a rash of injuries and had a breakout season. With this year turning out to be a pleasant surprise, Buchholz has its sights set on big things heading into the postseason.

“Having it be our senior year, it would be nice, getting to where we've always wanted to go, to win the state title,” said Solaun, who missed last year's regional playoffs while trying out for the Under-17 National Team and does not plan to miss any more games this season. “If we play to the potential that we have I think we can win state.”

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