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Hillsborough: Girls soccer district preview

Newsome’s Karina Gutsche, left, was a forward last season, but she has switched to sweeper, and the Wolves enter as the 5A-8 tourney’s
No. 2 seed.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Newsome’s Karina Gutsche, left, was a forward last season, but she has switched to sweeper, and the Wolves enter as the 5A-8 tourney’s No. 2 seed.

At this time of the girls soccer season, it's about finding the right places to put key players, staying healthy and peaking at the right time. After all, the regular season is merely preparation for the postseason, and as district tournament play begins Tuesday, every team still has a dream of making it to the state tournament at the University of Tampa's Pepin Stadium. In preparation for district, we offer up some quick tales of how some teams have become ready for the postseason:

Not your average first-year program

The goal for Steinbrenner at the beginning of the season was to host a region tournament game, which meant winning a district title. For most first-year schools, that's no more than a pipe dream, but the Warriors enter the district tourney as the top seed in 4A-9.

Most of Steinbrenner coach Teresa Patterson's team comes from Sickles, which won a district title last season. Five current starters, including leading scorer Cici Rodriguez (21 goals, 17 assists), played on that team, so these Warriors (13-0-2), who have no seniors, are used to winning. Patterson said all 25 of her players play club ball — some club players didn't make the squad — so the experience is there.

Three Warriors — Rodriguez, Alexis Bredeau (16) and Taylor Valley (14) — reached double digits in goals scored. The team also has 11 shutouts, an experienced back row of four juniors and a midfield anchored by Marissa Maries. The Warriors even survived a huge test by winning the Sarasota Holiday Classic by battling stiff competition, cold and rain.

Then there's district play, which they've dominated by a margin of 47-1. But there's still more to prove, Patterson said.

"I really don't know how good we are," Patterson said. "We didn't create our schedule. We can only maximize it. We've tried to use some games as training sessions to test our depth. But we're really going to have to compete now. I think our girls are excited about competing with the stakes higher."

Finding the right mix

Newsome coach Kelly Townsend has made her team aware that it has never won a district championship as a top seed.

The Wolves (13-3-3) lost four Division I-caliber players from last year's squad, which advanced to the Class 5A region final before losing to state power Lakeland George Jenkins. But Newsome started the season by winning the Wharton Invitational, handing Plant its only loss, then remained unbeaten for the first 12 games until losing to the Panthers.

"Winning the Wharton tournament set the tone for the rest of the season," Townsend said. "I think it was important. I didn't want them to beat themselves up about losing. I think it will help us through the playoffs. Even losing to Plant helped because it showed we weren't invincible."

Also consider: Newsome has won despite many key players playing out of position, trying six combinations by Townsend's count. Karina Gutsche, who scored 22 goals last season at forward, has taken over the sweeper position that Ana Cate, now at Auburn, used to anchor. Jackie Simpson has moved from stopper to sweeper.

"We've tried a lot of new combinations," Townsend said. "Some girls are playing positions they've never played."

Still, the Wolves enter the 5A-8 tournament as the No. 2 seed behind East Bay.

Filling in the middle

One of Tampa Prep's biggest wins of the year was 3-0 over Mitchell on Jan. 6, but the Terrapins lost second-leading scorer and starting center midfielder Jackie Rosenthal with a slightly torn meniscus.

Rosenthal, who fueled the offense, had seven goals and three assists. First-year coach Cindy Schofield turned to starting left back Amber Miller to take Rosenthal's spot.

Both players had crucial roles in the Terps' state title run two years ago as freshmen. Now Miller, who has four goals and four assists, will have to connect Tampa Prep's defense to its offense as it begins the postseason as the top seed in 2A-9.

"She's a rock," Schofield said. "You can put her anywhere and she will play well. She played outside back for her club team. She's really stepped it up. She had really good seasons her freshman and sophomore year, but she's taken a role as a junior. She's been a leader on and off the field, and she's a leader by example."

District tournament schedules

6A-8 at Bloomingdale

Tuesday: Alonso (4) vs. Brandon (5), 7

Wednesday: Plant (1) vs. Alonso-Brandon winner, 6; Bloomingdale (2) vs. Wharton (3), 8

Friday: Final, 7

5A-9 at Leto

Tuesday: King (4) vs. Sickles (5), 2; Gaither (3) vs. Chamberlain (6), 4; Freedom (2) vs. Leto (7), 6

Wednesday: Hillsborough (1) vs. King-Sickles winner, 6; Gaither-Chamberlain winner vs. Freedom-Leto winner, 8

Friday: Final, 7

5A-8 at East Bay

Tuesday: Plant City (4) vs. Riverview (5), 4; Durant (3) vs. Armwood (6), 6; Newsome (2) vs. Tampa Bay Tech (7), 8

Wednesday: Newsome-TBT winner vs. Durant-Armwood winner, 6: East Bay (1) vs. Plant City-Riverview winner, 8

Friday: Final, 7

4A-9 at Spoto

Tuesday: Spoto (4) vs. Lennard (5), 6

Wednesday: Robinson (3) vs. Blake (6), 6; Strawberry Crest (2) vs. Jefferson (7)

Thursday: Robinson-Blake winner vs. Strawberry Crest-Jefferson winner, 6; Steinbrenner (1) vs. Spoto-Lennard winner, 8

Friday: Final, 7

3A-10 at St. Petersburg Catholic

Tuesday: Tampa Catholic (4) vs. Academy of Holy Names (5), 7

Wednesday: Berkeley Prep (1) vs. TC-AHN winner, 6; Clearwater Central Catholic (2) vs. St. Petersburg Catholic (3), 8

Friday: Final, 7

2A-10 at Shorecrest

Tuesday: Sarasota Out of Door (4) vs. Northside Christian (5), 3; Bradenton Christian (3) vs. Cambridge Christian (6), 5; Shorecrest Prep (2) vs. Keswick Christian (7), 7

Thursday: Shorecrest- Keswick vs. Bradenton-Cambridge, 5; Bradenton St. Stephen's (1) vs. Out of Door-Northside, 7

Friday: Final, 7

2A-9 at Tampa Prep

Tuesday: Carrollwood Day (4) vs. Calvary Christian (5), 5

Thursday: Bishop McLaughlin (2) vs. Indian Rocks Christian (3), 5; Tampa Prep (1) vs. Carrollwood-Calvary winner, 7

Friday: Final, 7

2A-8 at Winter Haven All Saints

Thursday: Santa Fe Catholic (2) vs. Seffner Christian (3), 5; Lakeland Christian (1) vs. Winter Haven All Saints (4), 7

Friday: Final, 7

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Hillsborough: Girls soccer district preview 01/16/10 [Last modified: Saturday, January 16, 2010 10:46pm]

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