Sickles' nationally ranked boys soccer team won't have its second-leading goal scorer when it hosts nearby nemesis Gaither for the third time in Tuesday's Class 5A region semifinals.
Freshman center midfielder Michael Bajza (12 goals) is competing in an international tournament in Costa Rica with the U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program. Gryphons coach Tony Calvo said Bajza's parents informed him of the conflict before the season.
He would be back in time for next week's state tournament if Sickles makes it that far.
"That's an opportunity of a lifetime," Calvo said. "We've known about it for a while now so the players are prepared. We'll just have to make a couple of adjustments in our starting lineup."
Sickles (22-1-3), 16th in the latest ESPN Rise Fab 50 national rankings, defeated Gaither 2-1 in early January, and needed overtime to edge the Cowboys 3-2 (4-1 in PKs) in the District 9 final Jan. 29.