Wolves meet Blue Wave in regional semis

Published: Monday, January 31, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 1, 2011 at 12:19 a.m.

After St. Francis Catholic took the district championship over P.K. Yonge with a late goal in a 1-0 win, both Wolves coach Henry Couch and Blue Wave coach Pauline Hazan felt their teams were destined to meet again.


Girls regional soccer capsule

Admission: $6 per game

Who: Buchholz (20-2-1) at Orange Park, 7 p.m. Fleming Island (18-4-2)
What: Class 5A, Region 1
How they got here: Buchholz defeated Tallahassee Chiles 1-0 in overtime in the regional quarterfinals. Fleming Island defeated Tallahassee Leon 5-0 in the regional quarterfinals
What's next: Buchholz would host Lynn Haven Mosley or travel to Niceville for Friday's regional finals. Fleming Island would host either school.
Free kick: The Bobcats, led by UF commitments Havana Solaun (19 goals, 12 assists) and Kim Sapienza (29 goals, eight assists), are in the regional playoffs for the 12th consecutive season. Solaun scored the golden goal in the 82nd minute as Buchholz edged Chiles 1-0 in overtime in the regional-quarterfinals for the second straight season. Fleming Island is in the regional playoffs for the sixth straight season, which includes state semifinal appearances in 2006 and 2009. Alanna Phillips and Emily Cooksey each scored twice and Aryn Arfman scored once in the Golden Eagles' first-round win over Leon. This is the third meeting between Buchholz and Fleming Island this season and the sixth in the last two years. The Bobcats are 2-2-1 in the last five matchups, which included a win in last year's district final and a 2-1 (4-3 in penalty kicks) victory in the regional semifinals a year ago.

Who: P.K. Yonge (6-10-3) at St. Francis (15-2-3), 7 p.m.
What: Class 2A, Region 1
How they got here: P.K. Yonge defeated Tallahassee Maclay 1-0 in the regional quarterfinals. St. Francis defeated Tallahassee John Paul II 3-1 in the regional quarterfinals.
What's next: P.K. Yonge would travel to Niceville Rocky Bayou Christian or Panama City Bozeman for Friday's regional finals. St. Francis would travel to Rocky Bayou Christian or host Bozeman.
Free kick: P.K. Yonge is in the regional playoffs for the sixth consecutive season and for the eighth time in the last nine years. The Blue Wave's first-round win at Macaly, who they lost to in the first round a year ago, was their first regional playoff victory since 2004. Freshman Noelle Cusimano scored P.K. Yonge's lone goal, while goalkeeper Sarah Waters had 10 saves. St. Francis is in the regional playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. Kristen Oman scored twice and Celine Hickey had one goal as the Wolves defeated John Paul II in the opening-round for the second straight year to earn their second straight trip to the regional semifinals. This is the fourth meeting between St. Francis and P.K. Yonge this season and the seventh in the last two years. The Wolves have won five straight against the Blue Wave, including a pair of district championship victories.
— Cliff Olsen

They were right. Both teams recorded impressive regional quarterfinal wins, and as a result, will square off in a Class 2A, Region 1 semifinal at St. Francis tonight at 7.

This will mark the fourth meeting of the year between the two. The Wolves, who are making their fourth straight postseason appearance under Couch, have won all three previous contests (two regular-season and district tournament championship).

The Blue Wave, in the regional playoffs for the sixth consecutive year under Hazan, have been right in the thick of things on every occasion.

“It certainly makes things interesting for this game because you've got two teams that have played each other three times, so there aren't going to be any surprises,” Couch said. “We know what they can do, and they know what we can do.”

“Every game has been really evenly matched,” Hazan said. “It has just come down to them getting an opportunity to put the ball in the back of the net and taking advantage of it.”

The Blue Wave (6-10-3) have persevered despite the loss of seven players to season-ending injuries, including senior stars Alex Avera and Ellie Portillo. The Wolves (15-2-3) have not skipped a beat despite losing the services of sophomore standout, and leading scorer, Jessica Bradley, the 2010 Sun Small School Player of the Year.

“We've had a lot of adversity to overcome, and these players really stepped up and beat the odds,” Hazan said. “Thursday's win was an extreme confidence booster. I think the girls now realize they are totally capable of doing anything. If we can keep the momentum going from that big win, pretty much anything is possible.”

“We're happy to be at this point in the season and still playing with some of the issues we've had with injuries and so forth,” Couch said. “When you get to this point, you're one of 16 teams left, so everybody's shooting to make that next step.”

Tonight's contest should be another thriller.

“Over the last three years, every game we've had against P.K. Yonge has had no more than a one-goal separation between the two teams,” noted Couch. “I really do not expect anything different in this one.”

“At this point, it just comes down to heart and effort,” added Hazan. “The little things to keep the ball inbounds or keep the momentum on your side will be the things that ultimately make the difference.”

Buchholz (20-2-1) is the only other local squad still alive in girls' postseason play.

The Bobcats will travel to Orange Park for a Class 5A, Region 1 semifinal match with Fleming Island at 7 p.m.

This will be the third meeting of the season between the two squads. Buchholz, which is coming off a 1-0 win over Tallahassee Chiles in the regional quarterfinal, and Fleming Island tied during the regular season, but the Bobcats fell 3-0 in the district championship game.

“Obviously it's going to be tough,” said Buchholz coach Jim Peterson. “They're fast and athletic, but we know what to expect and basically what we have to do to pull out a win.”

The Bobcats, who are in the playoffs for the 12th straight season, are led by UF commitments Havana Solaun and Kim Sapienza.

“The girls are pretty excited and ready for a little bit of revenge,” Peterson said. “Fleming Island gave us two of the three blemishes on our record.

We're going to juggle a couple of things and see what happens. I think if everything falls right, we can pull it off.”

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