The road to Melbourne kicks off this week as area girls soccer teams compete in district tournaments. The winners and runners up will advance to the state tournament starting Jan. 23. Here's a rundown of the district schedules and some things to keep an eye on.
Class 5A-7 at Plant
Tuesday: No. 4 Bloomingdale vs. No. 5 Durant, 3; No. 3 Newsome vs. No. 6 Riverview, 5; No. 2 Wharton vs. No. 7 Alonso, 7
Wednesday: Newsome-Riverview winner vs. Wharton-Alonso winner, 5; No. 1 Plant vs. Bloomingdale-Durant winner, 7
The skinny: This figures to be the area's most competitive district tourney. The top three seeds all have legitimate title hopes and No. 4 Bloomingdale shouldn't be counted out either. Four-time defending district champ Newsome will have a tough road out of the No. 3 slot, but a Wolves-Panthers championship match is most likely.
Player to watch: Taylor Decaire, who led Newsome with 17 goals last year, has missed most of the season due to injury but the University of Tampa commit should be a go for districts.
Class 4A-9 at Strawberry Crest
Tuesday: No. 2 East Bay vs. No. 7 Armwood, 4; No. 3 Strawberry Crest vs. No. 6 Tampa Bay Tech, 6; No. 4 Hillsborough vs. No. 5 Brandon, 8
Wednesday: Strawberry Crest-TBT winner vs. East Bay-Armwood winner, 5; No. 1 Plant City vs. Hillsborough-Brandon winner, 7
Friday: Final, 7
The skinny: Plant City and East Bay played to a scoreless draw earlier this season and expect these two evenly-matched clubs to meet in the finals — neither lost a district match all season.
Player to watch: Plant City striker Ericka Lott has been a scoring machine, racking up 24 goals to go along with seven assists.
Class 4A-8 at Steinbrenner
Tuesday: No. 4 Freedom vs. No. 5 Sickles, 6; No. 3 Gaither vs. No. 6 Chamberlain, 8
Wednesday: No. 1 Wiregrass Ranch vs. Freedom-Sickles winner, 6; No. 2 Steinbrenner vs. Gaither-Chamberlain winner, 8
Friday: Final, 7
The skinny: 2011 state champs Steinbrenner and Wiregrass are the favorites to advance to the playoffs but Gaither, who gave the Bulls a run early in December losing 1-0 on the road, could be a factor.
Player to watch: Wiregrass Ranch has lost just twice this season and have been pouring in goals. The Bulls have four players with double-digit scoring, led by Berlin Waters' 17 goals
Class 3A-9 at King
Tuesday: No. 1 Robinson vs. No. 8 Middleton, 6; No. 2 King vs. No. 7 Spoto, 8;
Wednesday: No. 4 Jefferson vs. No. 5 Leto, 6; No. 3 Lennard vs. No. 6 Blake, 8
Thursday: Robinson-Middleton winner vs. Jefferson-Leto winner, 6; Lennard-Blake winner vs. King-Spoto winner, 8
Friday: Final, 8
The skinny: It's hard to imagine anything but a Robinson-King matchup in the finals. The Knights cruised through the district and only King gave them a fight, losing narrow 2-0 and 3-1 matches during the regular season.
Player to watch: How about the whole Robinson attack? The Knights' balanced approach has seven players with at least five goals and none in double digits.
Class 2A-9 at Clearwater Central Catholic
Tuesday: No. 4 Holy Names vs. No. 5 Tampa Catholic, 7
Wednesday: No. 1 St. Petersburg Catholic vs. HN-TC winner, 5; No. 2 CCC vs. No. 3 Berkeley Prep, 7
Friday: Final, 7
The skinny: This is the Barons' title to lose. SPC defeated their four district opponents by a combined 20-3 and one win in the semis guarantees St. Pete Catholic at least a trip to the playoffs.
Player to watch: SPC sophomore Brooke Coughlin leads the team with 15 goals and is second with seven assists.
Class A-7 semifinals and final at Calvary Christian
Tuesday: No. 5 Carrollwood Day at No. 4 Seffner Christian, TBD; No. 7 Bishop McLaughlin at No. 2 Calvary Christian, 4; No. 6 Cambridge at No. 3 Indian Rocks Christian, TBD
Thursday: at Calvary Christian: Calvary-Bishop winner vs. IRC-Cambridge winner, 5; No. 1 Tampa Prep vs. Seffner-CDS winner, 7
Friday: at Calvary Christian: Final, 7
The skinny: Tampa Prep pitched shutouts in four of its six district matches this season. But the Terps struggled in a 2-0 win against IRC and a 2-1 victory over Cambridge Christian during the regular season. No. 2 Calvary Christian has been inconsistent but should be in the final mix.
Player to watch: Darla Harrison has scored a team-high 16 goals for the Terps.