Buchholz boys soccer heads into semifinals


Buchholz High School teammates celebrate their goal during the Bobcat Invitational Soccer Tournament at Jonesville Park Soccer Complex in Gainesville on Dec. 20, 2011.

Steven H. Keys/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 9:09 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 9:09 p.m.

With a District 1-5A record of 7-0-1 and having outscored its district opponents by a total of 43-7, the Buchholz boys soccer team is in good position to claim its first district championship since 2001.

But the top-seeded Bobcats (15-2-3), who open tournament play against fourth-seeded Jacksonville Sandalwood in today's semifinals, aren't taking anything for granted.

"I like our chances," said Buchholz first-year coach Andy Aulick. "I still kind of want to stress to the guys that I'd almost rather us go in with an underdog mentality, even though we're going in as the No. 1 seed.

"I want the guys to have the mindset that we haven't won a district title in 11 years and that we have more to play for than the other teams."

With only the top four teams of the five-team district qualifying for the tournament at Patton Park in Jacksonville, a win by the Bobcats in the semifinals would put them in the regional playoffs for the second straight season.

"Obviously we don't want to look past Sandalwood, but we feel like it is going to come down between us and Mandarin in the final," said senior midfielder T.J. Atchison, an Emory University commitment. "This is probably the most skilled team that I have been on, and I really feel like this is our year to win a district title."

Atchison leads Buchholz with 18 goals to go along with seven assists, followed by junior midfielder John Schratt, who has 12 goals and 10 assists. Sophomore Diego Fisher has 11 goals and 10 assists for Buchholz, which won the gold division title at the Bobcat Invitational in December.

But Atchison admitted that the team went into a bit of a lull after that tournament and through what was a relatively easy district slate.

"The beginning of the year, we were playing real good soccer and we came back from the Bobcat Invitational and we have been a little off since," said Atchison, who is just one of two seniors on the team. "We have outscored our district opponents 43-7 and that might have gotten into our heads a little bit.

"Whatever it was, we hit a little bit of a wall, and I think the Fleming Island game helped us get over that. I think we're back to where we were before the Christmas break."

Orange Park Fleming Island handed Buchholz a 3-1 loss on Senior Night last Friday. The Golden Eagles defeated Buchholz last year to win the nine-team District 4-5A tournament en route to reaching the state semifinals.

"We pride ourselves in playing good soccer, connecting passes and getting goals off of keeping the ball," Aulick said. "It has been disappointing to watch in years past because we feel like we have too much talent to not get the district title."

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