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Girls soccer: Early promise comes to fruition for Plant City

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Thu. January 9, 2014 | Darek Sharp

Girls soccer: Early promise comes to fruition for Plant City

PLANT CITY — As freshmen they put up dazzling numbers and brought wonder with the thought of how good they would become by the time they are seniors. That time is now for the Plant City Raiders.

And the feeling is definitely one of now or never. Plant City (14-2) heads into Class 4A, District 9 tournament play as the clear favorite.

But the vision extends well beyond that.

“This is their time to shine,” said Raiders coach Caleb Roberts. “They’ve put four years of work in and it’s time to go further than they ever have before.”

It’s been a steady progression that saw Plant City reach new heights last season, a trip to the region finals where it lost 1-0 to Lakewood Ranch. Before that was a first-ever district title and playoff victory. And before that it was just getting to the playoffs, no small thing as the Raiders made only one trip previously (in 2000).

“This year it’s time to go state. We have the talent to do it,” said senior defender Kelsey Brevik, part of that core group that first put the Raiders on the map.

Brevik, Ericka Lott, Stephanie Galloway and Diana Corzine all posted double-digit goals in 2010-11 with another ninth-grader, Tora Nizamoff, adding eight with a team-high 17 assists.

Those five, along with captain Christina Gutierrez and defender Hannah Singletary give the Raiders a senior-heavy presence. Toss in Jennifer Ruiz, a junior club player Roberts happily convinced to play for the high-school team, freshman nine-goal scorer Drew

Knotts, tremendously athletic goalie Taylor Michael and superb sophomore back-liner Deanna Rodriguez, and it’s easy to see how Plant City could be playing for several more weeks.

And they think they now have what it takes to bring all the promise to fruition.

“They’ve learned to play together,” Roberts said. “Last year Ericka scored 24 goals and after that the next highest was nine (Gutierrez).

Now we’re spreading it around more. I’d like to think we’re harder to play against.”

Lott’s 18 goals heading into Friday’s regular-season finale led the way, but with Corzine scoring 14 and Galloway 11.

The only teams to solve Plant City are pretty good. Newsome is 15-0, beating the Raiders 1-0 in November, a game in which Roberts said they hit the post three times. Then last week Plant City challenged Lakeland Christian in a tournament, had five starters missing and lost 6-1.

“We’ve allowed nine goals all season, and that’s including those six,” Roberts said. Lakeland Christian is 21-0.

The Raiders outscored their district opponents 64-1 in eight games, beating the other two top teams (Hillsborough and East Bay) by a combined 7-0 on the road.

So a third straight district title seems in the cards. Plant City wants much more.

“It seems crazy that this is our last year together,” Galloway said. “And we can feel it. There is definitely more motivation than ever.”

District schedules
5A-7 at Palm Harbor University

Saturday: No. 4 Plant vs. No. 5 Countryside, 1; No. 3 PHU vs. No. 6 Alonso, 3:30
Jan. 16: No. 1 Steinbrenner vs. Plant-Countryside winner, 5; PHU-Alonso winner vs. No. 2 East Lake, 7:30
Jan. 17: Final, 7

5A-6 at Newsome
Saturday: No. 4 Durant vs. No. 5 Riverview, 1; No. 3 Wharton vs. No. 6 Bloomingdale, 3; No. 7 Strawberry Crest vs. No. 2 George Jenkins, 5
Tuesday: No. 1 Newsome vs. Durant-Riverview winner, 3; Wharton-Bloomingdale winner vs. Strawberry Crest-George Jenkins winner, 5:30
Jan. 17: Final, 7

4A-8 at Mitchell
Tuesday: No. 4 Gaither vs. No. 5 Wiregrass Ranch, 7
Wednesday: No. 3 Sickles vs. No. 6 Chamberlain, 6; No. 2 Freedom vs. No. 7 Leto, 8
Jan. 16: Sickles-Chamberlain winner vs. Freedom-Leto winner, 6; No. 1 Mitchell vs. Gaither-Wiregrass winner, 8
Jan. 17: Final, 7

4A-9 at East Bay
Saturday: No. 3 East Bay vs. No. 6 Tampa Bay Tech, 9 a.m.; No. 2 Armwood vs. No. 7 Hillsborough, 11; No. 1 Plant City vs. No. 8 Blake, 1; No. 4 King vs. No. 5 Lennard, 3
Monday: Plant City-Blake winner vs. King-Lennard winner, 4
Tuesday: East Bay-TBT winner vs. Armwood-Hillsborough winner, 3
Jan. 17: Final, 7

3A-9 at various sites
Saturday: No. 5 Bayshore at No. 4 Middleton, 10 a.m.; No. 6 Spoto at No. 3 Jefferson, 10 a.m.
Jan. 17: Bayshore-Middleton winner at No. 1 Robinson, 7; Jefferson-Spoto winner at No. 2 Southeast, 7
Jan. 18: Final, 10 a.m. (higher seed hosts)

2A-9 at Holy Names
Monday: No. 5 Berkeley Prep vs. No. 4 St. Petersburg Catholic, 5; No. 6 Tampa Catholic vs. NO. 3 Clearwater Central Catholic, 7
Wednesday: No. 2 Tampa Prep vs. TC-CCC winner, 5; No. 1 AHN vs. Berkeley-SPC winner, 7
Jan. 17: Final, 7

A-5 at Carrollwood Day
Tuesday: No. 3 Seffner Christian vs. No. 2 Cambridge Christian, 1:30; No. 1 Carrollwood Day vs. No. 4 Bishop McLaughlin, 3:30
Jan. 17: Final, 3:30
 

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