CLEARWATER — Clearwater Central Catholic’s playoff appearance last year was short on matches and long on letdowns. The Marauders were bounced from the Class 3A region soccer semifinals by Berkeley Prep, the eventual state runnerup.
This year, CCC wants its playoff-type experience to last a little longer than two games.
Try the entire season.
The Marauders have been sure to mark their calendars. Playoff teams from a year ago are on tap early in the season.
And pretty much every other game the rest of the year.
The schedule, which first-year girls coach Frank Seidl fashioned to provide no automatic victories, is grueling. Of CCC’s first nine games, four have been against teams that made the state playoffs in various classifications last year, including two that made the state final four.
Seidl made things tough by design because by the end of the year, his players will be ready for anything.
“We want to win a state title,” Seidl said. “We need to rise to the level of the top programs and that comes with the schedule. We also like it because it is a way to simulate intensity in big-game matches that you can’t get in practice.”
The Marauders have more than held their own in this tough stretch. They are 7-1-1 with victories against Class 6A defending state champion Palm Harbor University and 4A state semifinalist Bradenton Lakewood Ranch.
Against Lakewood Ranch, junior Kaitlin Parker had all three of CCC’s goals.
Parker and senior Lindsey Cooper, who has committed to Florida, give the Marauders a solid 1-2 scoring punch. They have combined for 17 of the team’s 25 goals.
“We’re like sisters,” Cooper said. “We’ve played each other since we were 6 years old.”
The Marauders will need the duo’s scoring with more big games ahead. This month, CCC plays St. Cloud and Sanford Seminole.
Then comes the rematch with Berkeley Prep on Jan. 5, which could decide the top seed in the district.
“We don’t like the way our season ended with Berkeley last year,” Parker said. “We know that is a team we have to beat to go far in the playoffs. We have a lot of confidence after beating some of the tough teams on our schedule.”
CCC is an established program with genuine designs on a state title. It has a balanced lineup and an abundance of support.
Oh yeah, it also has a schedule to match.