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Hillsborough: Girls soccer state preview

The two Hillsborough County girls soccer teams alive at this week's FHSAA state tournament at UT's Pepin Stadium know each other well, but they're taken very different paths here. As rivals, Tampa Prep and Berkeley Prep play each other annually for bragging rights, but come postseason they're in different classifications. For Tampa Prep, this is its third straight trip to the final four, and two years ago the Terps won it all in Fort Lauderdale. The Bucs, chasing their first state title, haven't been here since 2005. We break down the county's pair of state contenders.

The bucs' path: You have to go back four years to see the root of this year's Bucs team's success, when some of the 10 seniors were starting eighth-graders getting handed defeat after defeat from the likes of rival Clearwater Central Catholic. For seniors like midfielder Danielle Manning, it goes deeper, back to seventh grade, when she remembers missing a critical penalty kick against the Marauders.

"You still remember it," she said. "We remember how bad it felt to lose. That's what makes this year so great. Our mind-set has turned around." The Bucs have turned the tables. Berkeley's region semifinal win over CCC was its third over its rival this season, and the Bucs are 19-1-1 in their past 21 games. Experience is their biggest strength because a handful of seniors were starters as eighth-graders. Add in arguably the area's top goalkeeper in sophomore Bryane Heaberlin and top marking back Anne Kelly, and opportunities against the Bucs are rare.

Key player: Senior midfielder Amber Famiglietti is the top scorer (20 goals, 13 assists) on a team of offensive weapons that include Sam Newhaller (18, 14) and Taylor Richardson (16, 4), but Famiglietti has 11 goals in the past seven games. Her greatest asset, however, is her vision. She's often the one making a key pass that sets up a scoring opportunity downfield. After injury setbacks the past three years the Swarthmore recruit is healthy. "This has been her year," coach Ken Roberts said. "It's the year she's had the most impact for us."

Scouting report: Pensacola Catholic (20-2-0) is making its first state tournament trip with a team that includes just two seniors. Though the Panhandle isn't known for soccer, the Crusaders dominated the area with 19 shutout wins. This young team is buoyed by a defense that turned away nearly 30 shots in PC's 1-0 penalty-kick win over Jacksonville Bolles, a team that had beaten the Crusaders 8-0 in the region final the past two years.

The terps' path: It's difficult to consider a team coming off back-to-back state berths an underdog, but that's the way the Terps have felt this season. Part of it is inherent — being a Class 2A team they always fight perceptions they won't be able to hang with bigger schools — but this year the Terps weren't the team of years past, beating teams into 8-0 submission.

"In previous years, we were expected to be here," first-year Tampa Prep coach Cindy Schofield said. "This year, no one expected us to be here. They're motivated this year more than ever."

While sophomore Colby Maffei — the county's leading scorer (44 goals, 10 assists) — receives much of the attention, the Terps have won with balance. Caroline Cheek has 25 assists. And everything goes through center midfielder Jackie Rosenthal, who missed four weeks with a knee injury.

"This year everyone had to do their part to be successful," Rosenthal said.

Key player: Junior left back Amber Miller (5 goals, 8 assists) anchored a back row that is the main reason the Terps are back in the final four. She stepped in at center mid in Rosenthal's absence, but as Schofield said, "She's our rock. No one gets by her." Miller, as well as back-row mates Isabel Dalence, Mackenzie Logan and Lauren Knoke, held Bradenton St. Stephen's and West Palm Beach King's Academy to just one combined goal the past two matches, allowing goalkeeper Jordan Hatton room to make key saves. "We just have a cohesion," Hatton said of the defense. "We know where balls are going to. We work together well and we communicate a lot, which helps."

Scouting report: Tallahassee Maclay (19-1-3) earned its first state tournament berth in 11 years. While the Marauders have 10 seniors, their back row, which allowed just two shots in the region final, includes two starting eighth-graders. Attacker Reanna Leoni has 35 goals, but the Marauders are more a ball control team.

Hillsborough: Girls soccer state preview 02/10/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 8:30pm]
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