Relying on great reflexes and instinctive positioning, Danny Hrenko can turn away dangerous shots from close range in quick succession. That has helped the Sunlake senior become a technically-sound goalkeeper who is proficient at keeping opponents from scoring, so much so that Hrenko set an impressive mark.
In Monday's 8-0 win over Gulf, Hrenko became the national record holder in shutouts with the 75th of his career.
"I didn't really know about the record until this year," Hrenko said. "My coach and dad knew I had a bunch of shutouts through the years and looked it up one day and there it was.
"As it got closer, everyone started mentioning it to me. There was pressure, but I didn't feel it too much"
Hrenko has been playing soccer since he was 3 years old. He started out more as a midfielder before switching exclusively to goalkeeper six years ago.
The Eckerd signee's record is a testament to his consistency and staying power. Hrenko has started since he was a freshman and has recorded at least 20 shutouts every season.
During his record-setting night, Hrenko even scored a goal — his third of the season — on a penalty kick.
"That was more fun than anything else," he said.
As far as his record, Hrenko has a chance to keep adding to it considering he still has 10 games left in the regular season. Hrenko also has made 42 saves. His 0.2 goals-against average is tied with Riverview's Charlie Stephens for the state lead.
"Over the past four years I've been blessed with a solid defense and players who have spent years playing club soccer," Hrenko said. "Hopefully, we can keep adding to the shutout total."
East Lake girls finishing strong: With wins over St. Petersburg, Northeast and Countryside last week, the Eagles (12-3) clinched the top seed in the eight-team Class 4A, District 10. East Lake has won five straight heading into Friday's non-conference game against Keswick Christian.
"We scheduled some tough games early in the season," coach John Despota said. "We are a very young team experience-wise. But we've been playing much better later in the season."
It also helps that the Eagles got forward Emily Cady back for the stretch drive. Cady missed the first nine games, including a preseason game, due to a knee injury. But in seven games she has scored 15 goals. Despota said Cady needs a total of 22 this season to break the school's career record. East Lake has three regular-season games left as well as at least one district tournament game.
Others playing well include goalkeeper Mackenzie Nalven, who has nine shutouts. Midfielder Kristin Kelly scored six goals and had two assists in three games last week. And central defender Lindzy Suchomelly has been a wall on defense.
Newsome scores some big wins: The girls were invited to play in an eight-team tournament at Montverde over the weekend. Newsome defeated state power Jacksonville Bolles 1-0 on Friday, then came back to defeat Flagler Palm Coast 1-0 on Saturday. In the second game Saturday, the Wolves fell 1-0 to Merritt Island.
"It was a pretty big week for us," coach Kelly Townsend said. "I'd say we're getting better as the season goes on."
Townsend said her team is probably better than its 11-2-2 record. In a 2-2 tie against Strawberry Crest, the Wolves were missing most of their starters due to a club tournament. And she felt her team outplayed Merritt Island despite the outcome.
The biggest question mark was replacing defender Karli Gutsche, who now plays for Auburn. Sophomore Andrea Tamayo has filled the role, and senior defender Shayna Zajac has been "unbelievable," according to Townsend.
Offensively, senior Lindsey Eaton has 18 goals and 12 assists in just 10 games played. Townsend also likes the way sophomore center midfielder Jenna Oldham has played.
Young blood: There are a lot of stellar underclassmen this year in girls soccer, particularly in the freshman class. According to MaxPreps, Pasco's Jordyn Kadlub has 37 goals, which is third-best in the state and tops in Tampa Bay. Mitchell's Aja Graham isn't far behind with 20. And for even younger talent, check out seventh-grader Hayley Kidder, who leads Cambridge Christian with 14 goals.
Milestones: St. Petersburg girls and boys coach Rui Farias is one win from his 300th career victory. He will have to wait until the new year before reaching and likely surpassing the mark. The Green Devils are off until Jan. 5, when they host Lakewood. Farias became the Green Devils' girls coach in 1997. Prior to that he coached the girls team at Shorecrest. … Indian Rocks Christian's Olivia Ross-Johnson scored three goals against Largo last week, which allowed her to break the school record of 114 career goals. … Northeast boys coach Tom Blauvelt is in his 17th season. Until last Wednesday, he had never beaten East Lake. That changed when the Vikings won 1-0. That win knocked the Eagles out of the top spot in Class 4A, District 10 and clinched first place for St. Petersburg. … In just 12 games, Keswick Christian senior Kyle Storie has scored 19 goals and added three assists. He set a school record with seven goals in an 8-1 win over Northside Christian. … Seminole senior Olivia Red scored her 21st goal of the season last week, giving her 100 for her career.