Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

North Suncoast: Girls soccer district preview

River Ridge and Mikaela Morolla, left, lost to highly regarded Lakeland George Jenkins but held their own for a while.


River Ridge and Mikaela Morolla, left, lost to highly regarded Lakeland George Jenkins but held their own for a while.

Let the true season begin. Every girls soccer game to this point was an opportunity to sharpen skills, shift lineups and tackle tests such as playing the state's top competition. Losing games — district games — only impacted seeding for the tournament. With tourney games kicking off this week, we look at some key elements that could make or break a season:

Royal Knights endure

One of the most stunning losses for River Ridge came when rival Land O'Lakes upset the Royal Knights on their home turf 2-1 on Nov. 24. River Ridge had dominated the series in recent years. The Royal Knights rebounded with seven consecutive victories, outscoring opponents by a combined 23-2 margin, including a 1-0 win at Land O'Lakes on Dec. 18. Jenny Karl leads the Knights with 11 goals and seven assists.

Then came Wednesday's 4-0 loss to nationally ranked Lakeland George Jenkins. The game was scoreless until the Royal Knights went down a player (keeper Lisa Jadick) after she was issued a red card.

So can River Ridge rebound?

Consider: River Ridge holds the top seed in 4A-8, has earned four consecutive playoff berths and has been the top team on the North Suncoast this season.

Red alert: Gators' D

Land O'Lakes has one of the most perplexing records (9-4-6) in recent memory. The last team to score on the Gators? River Ridge, in a 1-0 win Dec. 18. That means the Gators have held opponents scoreless in the past four games, including a 1-0 win Thursday against Hudson. The really telling statistic is goals against: seven — in 19 games. Credit the quartet of Natalie Fontanes, Brittany Nieves, Molly Short and Keke Potts as one of the dominant back lines on the North Suncoast. And of course, a nod goes to keeper Tara Marshall, too.

Wright loss, wrong time

Mitchell could not have hoped for a better season. The Mustangs were 13-1-1 through December before Shelby Wright's early graduation to enroll at Nova Southeastern. Since her departure, there has been trouble in the midfield. A January stretch of games scheduled to test Mitchell heading into the district tournament became more of a proving ground and time to tinker.

The result was losses to Tampa Prep and St. Petersburg Catholic, and wins against Tampa Catholic and Sunlake. Of course, Mitchell is still stocked with talent, including North Suncoast points leader Marissa Russo with 62.

Concerned Cobras?

After a 1-2-1 start, Hudson rattled off a 13-game win streak before Thursday's 1-0 loss at Land O'Lakes. Should Cobras fans be concerned? Maybe.

A common occurrence for teams with long layoffs is a drop in chemistry. Hudson will have gone almost a month having played just one game when it takes the field as the 4A-7 top seed Wednesday.

The Bulls' eye

Wiregrass Ranch freshman A.J. Blount has had a remarkable season. She leads the North Suncoast with 28 goals after wins vs. Anclote and Pasco last week. In terms of the North Suncoast freshman scoring record, former Land O'Lakes star Stacy Bishop scored 46 goals and wrapped up her high school career in 2003 as the all-time leading scorer with 192. Still, Blount's talent has helped the Bulls to a solid season.

Hope springs eternal for Springstead

Can Springstead turn around its playoff woes? The Eagles, who boast Hernando County's scoring leader in Cristina Passafaro (eight goals, five assists), have reached the playoffs seven times, and each time Springstead lost its first-round game. Now in a new district (5A-7), not only could the Eagles reach region for the first time since 2008, but win the program's first playoff game. Of course, they'll have to win a semifinal vs. rival Central first.

Izzy Gould can be reached at or (813) 421-3886.


5A-7 at Springstead

Tuesday: Springstead (1) vs. Central (4), 7; Wednesday: Ocala Forest (2) vs. Ocala West Port (3), 7 at Forest; Thursday: final, 7

4A-8 at River Ridge

Monday: Hernando (9) vs. Sunlake (8), 7; Tuesday: Zephyrhills (7) vs. Land O'Lakes (2), 6; River Ridge (1) vs. Hernando-Sunlake winner, 7:45; Wednesday: Nature Coast (6) vs. Lecanto (3), 6; Wiregrass Ranch (5) vs. Citrus (4), 7:45; Thurs-day: Zephyrhills-Land O'Lakes winner vs. Nature Coast-Lecanto winner, 6; River Ridge-Sunlake/Hernando winner vs. Wiregrass-Citrus winner, 7:45; Friday: final, 7

4A-7 at Hudson

Tuesday: Pasco (4) vs. Ridgewood (5), 4; Gulf (3) vs. Anclote (6), 6; Mitchell (2) vs. Wesley Chapel (7), 8; Wednesday: Gulf-Anclote winner vs. Mitchell-Wesley Chapel winner, 5; Hudson (1) vs. Pasco-Ridgewood winner, 7; Friday: final, 7

2A-9 at Tampa Prep

Tuesday: Carrollwood Day (4) vs. Calvary Christian (5), 7; Thursday: Bishop McLaughlin (2) vs. IRC (3), 5; Tampa Prep (1) vs. Carrollwood-Calvary winner, 7; Friday: final, 7

North Suncoast: Girls soccer district preview 01/16/10 [Last modified: Saturday, January 16, 2010 10:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays journal: Erasmo Ramirez ready to start a day after closing game

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — RHP Erasmo Ramirez was on the mound to finish Sunday's 15-inning marathon win over the Twins and will start tonight's game against the Rangers.

    The Rays’ Erasmo Ramirez throws 12 pitches in the 15th inning against the Twins to earn the save then says after the game that he’s ready to make his scheduled start against the Rangers: “My arm feels good.”
  2. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  3. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  4. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Sunday's Rays-Twins game

    The Heater

    The Rays won because they got two innings of good relief from each of the two pitchers who contributed to them losing Saturday's game, Danny Farquhar (who again struck out Miguel Sano) and Tommy Hunter, who both posted zeroes.