Changes to North Suncoast leave powers srambling

Land O’Lakes senior midfielder Frank Villar was a Times’ second-team all-North Suncoast pick last season.

KERI WIGINTON | Times

Land O’Lakes senior midfielder Frank Villar was a Times’ second-team all-North Suncoast pick last season.

Perhaps the greatest problem with the growth of the North Suncoast is missed opportunity.

Consider this: Arguably the top two returning boys soccer teams — Land O'Lakes and Mitchell — will not meet in the regular season.

The split of the Sunshine Athletic Conference is partly to blame now that schools rotate opponents each season. There are too many schools and not enough games.

That said, the Gators and Mustangs could meet in the playoffs now that they both play in Class 4A. Of course, that means almost a guaranteed early exit from the playoffs after the anticipated dominance of local teams.

Sensing potential playoff disappointment, both schools have stacked their schedules with challenging tournaments and opponents heading into January.

The point is to get their teams tested to avoid the types of exits such as the one Land O'Lakes suffered last season, 6-2 in a 4A region final at Freedom.

In recent years, Mitchell played in 6A with the likes of Gaither, Alonso and Countryside and struggled to make the postseason. They broke through last season, reaching a 6A region semifinal before Durant dropped the Mustangs 1-0.

Now lumped in a district with Pasco County teams, Mitchell has filled out its schedule with tougher competition.

The only question is how it will all play out.

Five observations

1. Hudson lost 10 seniors, leading scorer Scott Combs and coach Paul Vescio. Could be a long season.

2. Gulf looks strong up front with players such as Travis Jehs, Petar Andjelic, and Tyler Best. But there are questions on defense.

3. Looking at the new districts, Class 3A, District 8 appears to be the most competitive with at least four capable of claiming the top two seeds.

4. Pasco has another impressive crop of players and should be in the mix after reaching the playoffs last season.

5. Look for teams such as Sunlake and Wiregrass Ranch to be much improved.

New districts

Class 5A, District 7

Central, Ocala Forest, Springstead, Ocala West Port

Class 4A, District 8

Citrus, Hernando, Land O'Lakes, Lecanto, Nature Coast, River Ridge, Sunlake, Wiregrass Ranch, Zephyrhills

Class 4A, District 7

Anclote, Gulf, Hudson, Mitchell, Pasco, Ridgewood, Wesley Chapel

Class 2A, District 9

Academy of the Lakes, Bishop McLaughlin, Calvary Christian, Carrollwood, Hernando Christian, Indian Rocks Christian, Tampa Prep

Key players

F Wayne Ewing, Jr., Hudson: Talented ball handler and Cobras' top returner in assists.

F Eric Garcia, Jr., Pasco: His 17 goals last season helped lead the Pirates to the playoffs.

F Jason Leslie, Sr., Mitchell: He can also switch to midfield when needed.

F Omar Odulaja, Jr., Central: Bears' top returning goal scorer.

MF Daniel Cano, Jr., Pasco: A solid ball handler and hard worker in the midfield.

MF Justin Miles, Jr., Land O'Lakes: Third-year starter can also play forward.

MF Max Rockwell, Sr, Mitchell: Orally committed to Southern Methodist.

MF David Vasquez, Sr., Mitchell: Clutch performer with strong skills.

MF Frank Villar, Sr., Land O'Lakes: Arguably the top returning player on the North Suncoast.

D Tim Falcon, Sr., Land O'Lakes: Sweeper who can play four different positions.

D Chris McVeigh, Sr., Mitchell: Returning Sunshine Athletic Conference first-teamer.

D Alejandro Motta, Sr., Mitchell: Three-year starter, among the fastest in the area.

D Jon Siragusa, Sr., Land O'Lakes: "Goose" anchors the Gators' defense.

D Steve Sullivan, Sr., Springstead: The Eagles' leader in the back.

D Nathan Tellez, Jr., Pasco: He plays various spots in the back and leads the defense.

GK Gilbert Tanguma, Sr., Pasco: Had 15 shutouts on a team that allowed just 17 goals.

GK Robbie Wallace, Sr., Mitchell: North Suncoast's top keeper is a Division I recruit.

Key dates

Tonight: River Ridge at Hernando

Tuesday: Ridgewood at Mitchell

Tuesday: Pasco at Hudson

Thursday: Mitchell at River Ridge

Thursday: Hudson at Springstead

Nov. 17: Mitchell at Pasco

Nov. 18: Nature Coast at Wiregrass Ranch

Nov. 20: Central at Hernando

Nov. 30: Land O'Lakes at Pasco

Dec. 3: Mitchell at Berkeley Prep

Dec. 14: Pasco at Mitchell

Jan. 13: Gulf at Land O'Lakes

Jan. 21: Tampa Prep at Mitchell

Jan. 25-29: district tournaments

Feb. 4: region quarterfinals

Feb. 9: region semifinals

Feb. 12: region finals

Feb. 17-20: state semifinals/finals

Izzy Gould can be reached at igould@sptimes.com or (813) 421-3886.

Changes to North Suncoast leave powers srambling 11/08/09 [Last modified: Sunday, November 8, 2009 8:47pm]

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