VALRICO — This hasn't been the finest season for the Bloomingdale girls soccer team. A state championship seems unlikely and just keeping up the Bulls' impressive postseason streak appears to be on shaky footing. All this would seemingly frustrate a decorated coach like Sue Peet. Not so.
"This year, this team, has been a lot of fun," Peet said. "The girls all get along and the effort is there. That can take you a long way."
Bloomingdale will look to return to the playoffs for the 12th consecutive season when the 6A-8 district soccer tournament kicks off next week.
During Peet's 15-season tenure, the Bulls have reached the postseason 14 times, including a state title in 2001.
"We're very young," Peet said.
That would be an understatement.
A quick look over the Bulls' roster reveals just one senior.
There are no superstars — no Marissa Kazbours or Jordan Johnsons. What Peet does have is a team that has gotten better as the season has progressed and one that's willing to put the greater good of the squad over personal achievement.
"They are unselfish and have been soaking up everything, much more so than some teams I've had recently," Peet said.
Since the Bulls are seeded third in the district, they will face a tough No. 2 Alonso team to open up the tourney. A win guarantees Bloomingdale a berth in the district final and another playoff appearance, but a loss ends the Bulls' season. Bloomingdale defeated the Ravens 2-1 Nov. 19 and played Alonso to a scoreless tie Jan. 7.
"It's going to be an interesting tournament," Peet said after the Jan. 7 tie. "It's a tough year."
6A-8 at Plant
Outlook: This is one of the most evenly-matched districts in Hillsborough County. Plant, Alonso and Bloomingdale all have a legitimate shot at winning. Just how close are they? The Panthers, Ravens and Bulls are ranked 4-6, respectively, in the latest Hillsborough County girl's soccer coaches poll. Sierra Siegel leads Bloomingdale with nine goals while Rachel Lassitter is second with five.
5A-8 at Newsome
Outlook: This is the Wolves' district to walk through. Anything less than that would be a shock. Newsome is a perfect 18-0 and ranked 14th in the latest ESPN/RISE Powerade Fab 50 national poll. But second place gets into the postseason as well and Plant City's group of fantastic freshmen might have the inside track. The Raiders finished 11-4-1, just the second winning season in school history. Ericka Lott (17 goals), Stephanie Galloway (16) and Diane Corzine (12) — all ninth graders — lead a potent Raiders' offense.