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In high school soccer, there are the haves and the have-nots. A team that has club players usually wins. A team that does not usually loses.
Dunedin has often been a have-not.
Every year for the past eight years, Falcons coach David Rowe has had to piece his team together with a few club players, a few players from other sports and a bunch of players who only play soccer casually.
“Every year is different,’’ Rowe said. “You never know who is going to come out.’’
The result has been a lot of mediocre seasons and disappointment at the district tournament. In fact, Dunedin didn’t win a game last season. But this year, everything has fallen into place. With only four club players on the roster, Dunedin not only managed a winning season (11-9-2) but earned a Class 3A region tournament berth for the first time since 1998.
The Falcons will play traditional powerhouse Jesuit on Tuesday in the region quarterfinals. It may be the last game Dunedin plays this season.
In fact, it would be a major upset if it isn’t.
But this Falcons team has already done things most thought they couldn’t. They knocked off nemesis East Lake earlier in the season, lost to annual powerhouse Palm Harbor University by one goal, and beat rival Osceola 2-0 in the district semifinals last week.
“Will and determination can win games,’’ Rowe said. “They don’t really realize how good they are. They’re having fun. We only lost to Palm Harbor by a goal. We beat East Lake. We lost to Countryside by one goal. These are teams that are three deep at each position and we are not. I don’t think they understand what they’re doing.’’
That’s not to say Dunedin doesn’t have good players. Senior midfielder Mike Koulouvaris missed all of last season to injury but came back strong this season. Junior midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos, sophomore defender Weston Wiggs and freshman stopper Erik Brenner are the other club players who have contributed this season.
“I didn’t even know if Koulouvaris was going to come back,’’ Rowe said. “And Erick Brenner has been phenomenal. He’s 90 pounds soaking wet but he’s very fast and physical.’’
The rest of the team is made up of athletes from other sports as well as first-time players. Leading scorer Teddy Aloizakis kicked field goals for the Falcons this season. Senior Andreas Zacharopoulus ran cross country. Junior Kyle Kreuter pitches for the baseball team.
And juniors Austin Ladd and Gianni Lopes were reserves on the football team.
Dunedin is proof that every once in a while a team can win using a slightly different formula.
“There is very good team chemistry,’’ Rowe said. “I’m not a shouter. I want this team to have fun playing soccer. They have done that this season.’’
Boys region soccer quarterfinals
Tuesday at 7 unless noted
5A: Wharton at Countryside
5A: Palm Harbor University at Bloomingdale
4A: Clearwater at Plant City
4A: Lake Region at Gaither
4A: Strawberry Crest at Seminole, 5:30
4A: Freedom at George Jenkins
4A: Orange Park Ridgeview at Springstead
3A: Dunedin at Jesuit
3A: Leto at Palmetto
3A: Gulf at Sunlake
3A: Land O’Lakes at Fivay
2A: Clearwater Central Catholic at Hardee
2A: Frostproof at Berkeley Prep
A: Tampa Prep at Bradenton St. Stephen’s, 3:30
Girls region soccer semifinals
Tuesday at 7 unless noted
5A: East Lake at Apopka
4A: Cape Coral Ida Baker at Seminole, 7:30
3A: Mariner at Osceola
3A: River Ridge at Eustis
2A: Clearwater Central Catholic at West Palm Beach King’s Academy
A: Tampa Prep at Lakeland Christian