5A, East Bay (12-4-2) at Springstead (15-3)
How they got here: East Bay lost 3-0 to Newsome in the 5A-8 final; Springstead beat Ocala Forest 3-0 to claim the 5A-7 title
Winner: Advances to region semifinal to face Newsome-Ocala Forest winner
Skinny: Polo Furlong has coached Springstead for five seasons, guiding the Eagles to their second district title in four years. The first one came in 2007. Springstead has displayed local dominance in recent years, but the postseason has been brutal. In seven playoff games since 1994 the Eagles have scored just one goal, in a 2-1 loss to Boca Ciega that year. Since then, Springstead has been shut out in six consecutive playoff games by two or more goals. In all, the Eagles have four consecutive playoff berths but no victories. Furlong said he doesn't know much about East Bay, but hopes playing at home and in a new classification can help change his playoff fortune.
"Every playoff is different," Furlong said. "East Bay comes from 6A to 5A and we go from 4A to 5A. We have new teams, everything's new."
One issue could be the health of Tara Vasquez, whom Furlong said is 90 percent recovered from a foot injury. She missed the 5A-7 semifinal and returned to score a goal against Forest. She leads Hernando County in goals and points.
"She will play in (today's) game," Furlong said. "She's at 90 percent, but I hope she can perform at 100 percent."
4A, Mitchell (17-5-2) at River Ridge (17-2-1)
How they got here: Mitchell lost 2-1 in double overtime to Hudson in the 4A-7 final; River Ridge defeated Land O'Lakes 3-1 for the 4A-8 title
Winner: Advances to region semifinal to face the Land O'Lakes-Hudson winner
Skinny: The teams met Nov. 12 at Mitchell, a game that ended 2-2. River Ridge took a 1-0 lead into halftime before Mitchell scored two goals in the final 40 minutes. One significant change will be the absence of Mitchell midfielder Shelby Wright, who graduated in December to enroll at Nova Southeastern this month. She had an assist in the first meeting.
The series between Mitchell and River Ridge has been relatively even in the five meetings dating to 2006. Before this season's draw, Mitchell won the previous two 4-1 and 3-2. River Ridge showed plenty of firepower this season, outscoring teams 74-15. The Royal Knights are led by Jenny Karl (15 goals, 40 points) and Mikaela Morolla (12 goals, 34 points). Mitchell answers with Marisa Russo (26 goals, 52 points) and Jessica Jagielski (10 goals, 36 points).
4A, Land O'Lakes (11-5-6) at Hudson (16-3-1)
How they got here: Land O'Lakes lost 3-1 in 4A-8 final; Hudson won 2-1 in double overtime against Mitchell for the 4A-7 title
Winner: Advances to region semifinal to face the Mitchell-River Ridge winner
Skinny: These teams met just two weeks ago, a game the Gators won 1-0 at home. This time they will meet on the Cobras' home turf, where Hudson has not lost this season and boasts two wins against Mitchell. Hudson is led by Alicia Schuering (22 goals, 52 points), Logan McGee (10 goals, 27 points) and Jessica Imbimbo in net with six shutouts. The Cobras have flourished under the guidance of first-year coach Stephen Jones. The Gators had pitched six consecutive shutouts before a 3-1 loss to the Royal Knights. There was also concern about senior Nikki Forcier (seven goals, 16 points); a leg injury forced her out of the district final. Land O'Lakes coach Vicki King wrote in an e-mail that Forcier is "day to day" but expected to play. Forcier scored the winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Lecanto to advance to the district tournament final. Land O'Lakes has outscored opponents 31-10.
Izzy Gould, Times staff writer