This space has been reserved the past nine weeks for football. Now it's time for a little futbol. No, football season isn't over yet. In fact, Durant, Newsome, Bloomingdale (yes, the Bulls), Spoto and of course, Armwood, have booked a spot in next week's region quarterfinal. Congratulations to those teams. With the playoffs set, tonight's games are purely for pride. Therefore, we'll take a look at some area soccer. This part of the county has been blessed in recent years with a ton of soccer talent, especially on the girls' side. Most recently, Newsome and Bloomingdale have been the teams to beat. The Bulls reached the regional semifinals and won the state title in 2001. Newsome rebounded from a pair of losses to Bloomingdale to reach the regional finals before getting bounced by eventual state champion George Jenkins. And there is no lack of intensity when the Bulls and Wolves meet on the field. Here's a look at some of the top players in the area:
Ana Cate, Newsome
Her 2007-08 stats won't turn many heads — nine goals, six assists — but the Auburn-bound senior is arguably the best player in the county. Cate makes every midfield hers, opening up the Wolves' offense in the attacking third.
Aileen Herrara, Bloomingdale
Herrara is a fierce competitor who has overcome knee injuries to become one of the top defenders in the county. Expect her to mark the opposition's best player all year.
Hannah Rainey, Newsome
Rainey was the backup keeper at the start of last year but by season's end, she was arguably Newsome's most dangerous scoring threat. With a full season as a field player under her belt, Rainey, one of the quickest players around, should easily surpass her 10-goal total from last year.
Ashley Evers, Newsome
Evers, who will play at USF next year, is a playmaker who recorded 15 assists last season. The senior midfielder's crossing services are a lethal weapon, and her speed stretches the field for the Wolves.
Brittany Cox, East Bay
East Bay lost a number of quality players from last year's team, but Cox and her 14 goals return.
Christina Coca, Bloomingdale
That Coca has been a four-year starter for a program of Bloomingdale's stature speaks volumes. The Saint Leo-bound keeper has no peers in the area in terms of athleticism.
Paula Forero, Riverview
Forero burst onto the scene last year with 23 goals for a weak Riverview club.
Kendall Graham, Newsome
Graham excels at organizing a sturdy defense in front of her, producing 12 shutouts in 2007-08. Graham, who has tremendous size and wingspan, will be between the pipes next season for the Naval Academy.
Shannon Mollenhauer, Seffner Christian
Not much was known about Mollenhauer, who didn't play for the Crusaders last season. But opponents are finding out quickly: Mollenhauer tallied seven goals in Seffner Christian's first two wins this year.
Nancy Davison, Bloomingdale
Davison's strength is, well, her strength. The senior scored some huge goals last season — just ask Newsome — and is adept at playing with her back to goal.