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Boys soccer: Pinellas district preview

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Wed. January 15, 2014 | Rodney Page | Email

Boys soccer: Pinellas district preview

ST. PETERSBURG — November 20th started like any other day for coach Tom Blauvelt. He taught his art classes at Northeast and thought about that night’s boys soccer game at Clearwater.

But when the final bell rang, Blauvelt didn’t feel right.

“School had just gotten out and I had a weird sensation," he said. “I kind of lost my balance and sat down for a minute. I went home and the rest of the night it just got worse and worse. I tried to get up at 5 a.m. and I couldn’t do it. I went to the emergency room and they told me I had a stroke."

Blauvelt, now in his 16th season as Vikings coach, permanently lost hearing in his right ear. He sometimes struggles with his balance and was forced to miss three games.

Blauvelt returned to the field Dec. 4 when Northeast was playing at neighborhood rival St. Petersburg.

“I wasn’t going to miss that game," he said. “They could’ve brought me out in wheelchair and I would’ve been at that game."

And what a game it was.

The Vikings trailed 2-0 with five minutes remaining. Then came a goal. And another. And another. Northeast prevailed 3-2, a win that eventually helped the Vikings represent the south in Friday night’s Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship against East Lake.

“If we lost that game we wouldn’t be playing in the PCACs," said junior midfielder Stevie Rudderham, who leads the team with 18 goals. “That was big. And then Coach coming back that night and the way we scored all those goals late, it just jump-started our season again."

The Vikings are 11-4-2 and the second seed in Class 4A, District 10. They are playing in the PCAC final for the second straight season against East Lake, last winning the conference in 2003.

The Vikings are motivated to break the drought and win one for Blauvelt.

“He’s been here forever," said senior midfielder Dylan Jones, who has 12 goals. “He puts all of his heart into it. It’s 24-7 Vikings soccer with him. He emails us, texts us, makes phone calls. He’s always pulling me out of class to talk about the next game’s strategy. Every game we play is for Coach."

District schedules
5A-8 at various sites

Jan. 22: No. 4 Pinellas Park at No. 1 Sarasota Riverview, 7; No. 3 Manatee at No. 2 St. Petersburg, 7
Jan. 24: Final at TBD, 7 (higher seed hosts)
Skinny: The Green Devils (10-3) lost a coin flip to be the No. 1 seed. That sets up a likely rematch at Riverview for the district championship. St. Petersburg hasn’t really been challenged since before the holidays, when it lost to both Riverview and Osceola. Which Green Devils team shows up next week?

5A-7 at Alonso
Tuesday: No. 3 Plant vs. No. 5 Countryside, 5; No. 4 Palm Harbor University vs. No. 6 Alonso, 7
Jan. 22: No. 2 East Lake vs. Plant-Countryside winner, 5; No. 1 Steinbrenner vs. PHU-Alonso winner, 7
Jan. 24: Final, 7
Skinny: Without a doubt this is the toughest district in the area. East Lake has been without four players due to injury and illness, including leading scorer Josh Page. They all return for the postseason. Palm Harbor University won the Hurricane Watch tournament by beating East Lake, so it is full of confidence. Kieran McGeough, Jacob Harris and Channing Pezet are key players for the Hurricanes.

4A-10 at various sites
Tuesday: No. 6 Dixie Hollins at No. 3 Seminole, 7; No. 5 Osceola at No. 4 Clearwater, 7
Jan. 22: Clearwater-Osceola winner at No. 1 Palmetto, 7; Dixie-Seminole winner at No. 2 Northeast, 7
Jan. 24: Final at TBD, 7 (higher seed hosts)
Skinny: Palmetto is a state title contender, so it will be an upset if any other team wins this district. The challenge for the others is getting to the final, and it’s wide open. In the regular season, Osceola tied Northeast and Northeast tied Clearwater. Northeast beat Seminole and Seminole tied Clearwater. Go figure.

3A-10 at Tarpon Springs
Tuesday: No. 5 Boca Ciega vs. No. 4 Lakewood, 6; No. 6 Gibbs vs. No. 3 Dunedin, 8
Jan. 22: No. 1 Tarpon Springs vs. Bogie-Lakewood winner, 6; No. 2 Largo vs. Dunedin-Gibbs winner, 8
Jan. 24: Final, 7
Skinny: The Spongers appear to be the clear No. 1. Tarpon Springs took care of No. 2 Largo 7-3 in the regular season. The other four seeds have losing records and struggled to score this season.

2A-9 at St. Petersburg Catholic
Tuesday: No. 4 Berkeley Prep vs. No. 5 Tampa Catholic, 7
Jan. 22: No. 2 Tampa Prep vs. No. 3 Clearwater Central Catholic, 5; Berkeley-TC winner vs. No. 1 SPC, 7
Jan. 24: Final, 7
Skinny: There’s not much difference between the top three seeds. SPC and CCC tied earlier in the season, and Tampa Prep jumped up in class and has competed well in the district. This could be an all-Pinellas final between the Barons and Marauders.

A-6 at Calvary Christian
Tuesday: No. 3 Admiral Farragut vs. No. 6 Canterbury, 5; No. 4 Calvary Christian vs. No. 5 Northside Christian, 7:30
Jan. 23: No. 2 Indian Rocks Christian vs. AFA-Canterbury winner, 5; No. 1 Shorecrest vs. No. 4 Calvary-Northside winner, 7:30
Jan. 24: Final, 7
Skinny: Shorecrest was 12-0 in the district, so it is clearly the favorite. Robert Zolper and Taylor DeGeare each have 10 goals, and Kalju Jake Nekvasil has eight goals and seven assists for the Chargers. IRC has beaten Admiral Farragut twice this season, so the Golden Eagles are favored to get the runnerup spot.

Teams in post

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