The four area boys soccer teams standing on the precipice of a state title have reached the outer rungs of their respective brackets with collaborative efforts. Few get this far without production from different players; the guy who steps up Thursday may not be the same one who stars Friday. Yet for all the rhetoric about balance, we have to get a little Orwellian here: Some players are more “balanced” than others. Each local final four team — Berkeley Prep, Steinbrenner, Sunlake and Tampa Prep — has that go-to guy coaches want at the head of a rush in the clutch moments. Today, we take a closer look at those players.
Jason Collister, Sr., Steinbrenner
Stats: 26 goals, eight assists
Twitter handle: @JMoneyisballer
Postseason: Collister had a hat trick in Tuesday’s 3-1 region championship victory at Deltona Pine Ridge, giving him six goals in three playoff contests.
Thumbnail: A zealous Tampa Bay Lightning fan, Collister was a freshman on Steinbrenner’s inaugural team in the 2009-10 season. While teammate Derek Gebhard is faster, coach Chad Ebright said Collister’s strength is pure soccer instinctiveness. “Like most great scorers, he has a nose for the goal,” Ebright said. “He gets himself into a scoring position early and anticipates the play. He has been a pleasure to coach.”
Shaddy Douidar, Sr., Tampa Prep
Stats: 29 goals, six assists
Twitter handle: N/A
Postseason: Three goals, one assist, including one of each in Tuesday’s 5-1 region championship victory against Windermere Prep
Thumbnail: A three-year starter, Douidar is enjoying a breakthrough season after previously being overshadowed by elite scorers (including 2012 state player of the year Jordan Hayes). Coach Doug Smith calls him an “amazing force” whether he’s moving with or without the ball. “He’s always been a great attacker and this year he has found a nose for the goal,” Smith said. “He’s got good speed, but it’s his speed of play that sets him apart from most high school players.”
Daniel Felman, Jr., Berkeley Prep
Stats: 22 goals, 14 assists
Twitter handle: @DanielFelman7
Postseason: Three goals, two assists
Thumbnail: One of three returning starters (Tyler Sacone and Warren Backman are the others) from a 2A state runnerup team projected for a rebuilding season, Felman is arguably the sleekest ball-handler on a team rife with them. Even coach Tim Cooper has suggested Felman is the proverbial straw that stirs the drink. Almost religiously, Felman engages in the same pregame warmup routine, which includes passing with teammate Austin “Big Red” Iglehart, a buddy since pre-K.
Connor Gilboy, Sr., Sunlake
Stats: 60 goals, 28 assists
Twitter handle: N/A
Postseason: Gilboy scored twice in a shutout win over Wesley Chapel to clinch Sunlake’s trip to the playoffs.
Thumbnail: Although teammate Connor Spencer has come on strong in the playoffs, scoring two goals in the region quarterfinals and knocking in the winner at Gainesville Eastside, and is among the nation’s leaders with 38 assists, the other Connor remains the Seahawks’ go-to guy. Gilboy’s 60 goals rank among the most in the country and set a single-season Pasco County scoring record, breaking the 12-year-old mark by Land O’Lakes Justin Geisler (55). Gilboy remains the top scoring threat for unbeaten Sunlake (30-0). “I want to go out with a bang — or I want to try,” Gilboy said before the playoffs.
Matt Baker and Joey Knight, Times staff writers