Girls soccer region quarterfinals
All games 7 p.m. Thursday unless noted.
Class 5A, Plant City (14-5-1) at Springstead (10-5-2)
Springstead hopes to pick up its first playoff victory in school history. The Eagles, who won the district tournament for the second year in a row after holding on for a 3-2 victory over Forest, have made the postseason eight times but have yet to break through in regionals. Plant City is making just its second playoff appearance and first since 2000. The Raiders also have never won a postseason game. Whichever team breaks through likely won’t be around for long. Awaiting the winner will likely be Newsome, ranked No. 9 nationally according to ESPN Rise. George Jenkins, ranked No. 4 by ESPN Rise, is also in the same region.
Keep an eye on: Plant City freshman forward Ericka Lott leads the Raiders with 21 goals; Springstead’s Alyson Brady, a Western Michigan commit, has the all-around game to help the Eagles advance.
Class 4A, River Ridge (20-3-2) at Mitchell (21-2-1)
River Ridge had a string of five straight district titles broken when it fell to Wiregrass Ranch in the district final. But the Royal Knights are playoff veterans, having made regionals six straight seasons. Mitchell solidified its position as the North Suncoast’s best team by blanking Gulf 2-0 in the district final. The Mustangs own a 2-1, regular-season victory over River Ridge (Nov. 10). Mitchell and River Ridge met last season in the region quarterfinals with the Royal Knights winning 2-0.
Keep an eye on: River Ridge’s Jenny Karl leads the North Suncoast with 44 goals; Mitchell freshman goalkeeper Erica Disbrow has made just four starts but has recorded three shutouts, including a blanking of Gulf in the district final.
Class 4A, Gulf (17-2-1) at Wiregrass Ranch (21-2-2)
Both programs are experiencing their best seasons. Gulf has lost only twice, both times to Mitchell. The Buccaneers will be going for their first postseason victory after coming up short in two previous trips in 1998 and 2006. Wiregrass Ranch has never qualified for the postseason before this season. The Bulls captured their first district title with a 3-2 win over River Ridge on Friday.
Keep an eye on: Gulf’s Hannah Foster, a technically sound junior midfielder, is the facilitator in the Bucs’ attack; Wiregrass Ranch’s A.J. Blount, takes a beating every game but still scored 37 times this season.
Class 2A, Bishop McLaughlin (12-4-1) at St. Stephen’s (17-3), 4 p.m.
Bishop McLaughlin has just one other playoff appearance on its resume, in 2009 when it lost 4-3 to Indian Rocks Christian in the first round. The Hurricanes are looking to rebound after losing by six goals to Tampa Prep in the district final. St. Stephen’s won its fourth straight district title in dominating fashion, winning three games by a combined 14-0.
Keep an eye on: Bishop McLaughlin’s Corrie Bexley had a hat trick against IRC to send the Hurricanes to regionals; St. Stephen’s goalkeeper Shannon Morrish blanked three opponents during district tournament.