TAMPA — Looking at the Jesuit boys soccer team's season statistics, nothing jumps out. There's no overwhelming or huge numbers.
"We don't have that one big offensive weapon," Jesuit coach Bob Bauman said. "That's just fine with us."
Despite the lack of eye-popping numbers in any particular column, it's hard to argue with the results so far. Jesuit, ranked No. 22 in the country by ESPN Rise and receiving votes in the most recent National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, will begin its quest toward a seventh state title this week in the Class 5A District 10 tournament.
"The big question coming into the season was who would replace the scoring load we lost from last year," Bauman said. "Turns out the answer is everybody."
The Tigers don't have a player with 20-plus goals on this year's roster. They don't even have any in double digits. In fact, sophomore Stephen Gathman leads Jesuit with just eight goals.
What Jesuit does have is five other players with at least four goals. The Tigers feature an attack that comes from all angles; unpredictable as it is successful.
"I think you said the perfect word and that's 'balance,' " Bauman said. "This team has been so unselfish."
Bauman's group has a 20-1-1 record despite scoring far fewer goals than in years past. Last season's Tigers, which featured four players with 12 or more goals and reached the state semifinals before losing to eventual champion Wharton, scored 111 times.
This year's team has 37 goals.
But after losing scoring threats Ali Van Gurp, Arthur Beil and Josh Menedez, Bauman expected to have a scoring drop off. What he didn't count on was how well his young players would respond. Jesuit starts four, sometimes five, sophomores.
"That hasn't happened here since maybe 1995," Bauman said.
Bauman is counting on those sophomores — Austin Jurado, Grady Trimble, Tyler Hartlage, Alex Rados and Gathman — to continue their solid play in the postseason. Add NSCAA All American Keith Sierra (four goals, four assists) and goalkeeper Robert Kouwe (23 saves) to Jesuit's list of youngsters and the Tigers may have the right mix for their first state title since 2001.
That was also the last year the state championships were held in Tampa — the site of this season's finals after the event moved from Fort Lauderdale.
"I can tell the players are very excited to have the finals back here in Tampa," Bauman said. "They've been talking about it, and it would be nice to play in front of our home fans."
|Players to watch|
|Anthony Baumann, Tampa Prep||Baumann has great vision (11 assists) as well as a knack for finding the net (nine goals).|
|Andrew Buckley, Tampa Catholic||Buckley followed an impressive sophomore season (16 goals) with a breakout year (27) in 2008-09.|
|Cecil Clarke, Durant||Clarke (18 goals), along with teammate Billy Fanning, are a lethal scoring duo for the 21-2 Cougars.|
|Jacob Cohen, Wharton||Cohen paces the defending state champs in both scoring (11) and assists (six).|
|Billy Fanning, Durant||Has 22 goals this year and seven multiple-goal matches.|
|Tevin Gage, Bloomingdale||The speedy striker had 12 goals for the sub-.500 Bulls.|
|Steven Gonzalez, Newsome||The athletic junior striker has scored 11 times this year.|
|Deion Jones, Freedom||The fleet-footed Jones has nine goals and 11 assists.|
|T.J. Roehn, Berkeley Prep||Roehn's 20 goals top Bucs in scoring.|
|Brandon Romero, East Bay||Romero leads a balanced scoring attack with nine goals.|
|Steven Scrivens, King||Scrivens' seven goals leads the top-seeded Lions.|
|Jonathan Thomas, Alonso||Ravens' top scorer found the net 14 times this year.|