Buchholz battles for spot in state boys soccer final
Published: Friday, February 8, 2013 at 12:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 8, 2013 at 12:23 a.m.
The Buchholz boys soccer team are entering uncharted waters in the state playoffs. So is West Orange.
Tonight in Winter Garden, one of them will advance to their first state final in school history.
The Bobcats (18-1-4), ranked No. 2 nationally by MaxPreps, are unbeaten in 10 straight games, winning their last four by shutouts, three in playoff wins over Spruce Creek (2-0), Jacksonville Mandarin (1-0) and Oviedo (1-0). The unbeaten Warriors (18-0), which have just five seniors and have scored 65 goals, have 12 shutouts on the season and pulled out a 2-1 double overtime win at Tarpon Springs East Lake in the regional finals.
Buchholz certainly has the edge in experience with 13 seniors and have been very stingy defensively in the playoffs, especially in its last two games. Junior goalkeeper Hunter Patrick wasn’t really challenged against Oviedo like he was against Mandarin, a state finalists last year.
The Bobcats, who have 10 shutouts on the season, have enjoyed three straight playoff games at Jonesville Sports Complex and will be making their first road trip in the postseason. Coach Andy Aulick sees his team’s experience as an advantage.
“The guys have been in these game and they know what to expect, they know the implications,” Aulick said. “Being there before kind of takes the pressure off of them, relaxes them a little bit. I also think it gives them more drive wanting to win. Having been knocked out in the past gives them that drive to win.
“A lot of guys keep saying they don’t want to lose, they don’t want it to be their last game. With all these seniors, they don’t want this to be their last shot.”
Senior forward Eric West leads the team with 17 goals, but opponents have been keying on him a lot in the playoffs, where he has been held scoreless.
“I would love to see him get some goals in the playoffs,” Aulick said. “It is his senior year and I would like him to end his career on a positive note. As our leading scorer, he draws a lot of attention from our opponents. It has opened up holes for our other players.”
Midfielders Diego Fisher (11 goals) and senior Louis Allen (10 goals) have been the scorers during the playoffs for the Bobcats, each kicking in a pair in the three games.
Offensively, West Orange is led by sophomore forward Felipe Silva, who has connected on 19 of his 23 goal attempts. Freshman midfielder Greg McDoom, who scored both goals in the regional finals, has 14 on the season.
“Last year I thought we had a team that had a shot at state and we fell early,” said Warrior coach Scott Fisher. “This year’s team I thought would be kind of a rebuilding year. We were fortunate to get two brothers from Kansas (Felipe and Victor Silva) that transferred in and it has helped us a lot.
“From what I’ve seen of Buchholz they are a great defensive team. We believe we play pretty well defensively ourselves. I know they are one of the top-ranked programs in the nation and tied Montverde (nation’s No. 1). We have a lot of respect for Montverde.”
Aulick sees a lot of similarities between the two teams but is counting on the Bobcats’ experience to be the difference.
“l heard they are also a smaller team than us,” Aulick said. “I think we will have some advantage in size. We will try to use that to our advantage as well.
“In past years felt we have come off soft against a lot of teams. If we come out with an aggressive style we can put pressure on teams. We tend to remind each other to keep up the intensity.”
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