Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas: Girls soccer season preview

Since 1988, Pinellas County has had at least one girls soccer team advance to the state final four, and at least one team has reached the championship in its classification in six of the past seven seasons. But last season marked the first time the county did not bring home a state title since 2008. Is there a team that can make a run this year? Girls soccer begins this week, so we're answering three pressing questions heading into the season:

Who are the top two players?

Seminole senior forward Gina Hayduke can score goals. St. Petersburg Catholic senior goalkeeper Maggie Dalessio can stop them. Both players guided their teams to the final four last year.

Hayduke, the St. Petersburg Times' 2010-11 county player of the year, scored a county-best 36 goals, including a combined six in two district games. She will have to take on even more of the scoring responsibilities with the graduation of six starters, including Sierra Lelii, who scored a combined 58 goals the past two seasons. But there is enough talent to make a third straight state tournament appearance.

Dalessio helped the Barons reach the state final four for the first time by smothering shots to lead a defense that recorded six straight shutouts in the postseason. In the state semifinals, Dalessio turned in her best performance, thwarting numerous penalty kick attempts against Lakeland Highland Prep. Defense will again be the Barons' calling card as they try to make another postseason run in a tough district that includes Clearwater Central Catholic.

Is Palm Harbor University back?

The Hurricanes have been the county's most dominant program, advancing to the state title game five of six seasons from 2005-10 and winning three championships during that span. But last season, PHU went through a rebuilding phase. The Hurricanes had their 34-game win streak snapped in a season-opening loss to CCC and did not make it to the state final four for the first time since 2008. The young players are now more experienced, led by midfielder Paige Lombard and forward Kelly Phipps. That should be enough for PHU to get back to the state tournament.

Who else could contend?

Though it graduated plenty of starters, CCC should be in the mix with forward Kaitlyn Parker leading the way. East Lake will count on forward Madison Del Duca and midfielder Amanda Byrne. Countryside only lost two starters and should be a contender. St. Petersburg is always strong, with Christina Mendoza and Katie Pelton both returning.


For the fans

Admission: Most schools charge $4 for regular-season games.

Regular season: The first day that games are permitted is Monday. A team may not play more than 25 games, including tournaments. The season ends Jan. 14.

Postseason: District tournaments are Jan. 16-20. The 16 district winners and 16 runnersup in each classification advance to region tournaments, which begin Jan. 26. The final four teams in each of the six classifications advance to the state tournament Feb. 8-11 at Pepin Stadium at the University of Tampa.

Pinellas: Girls soccer season preview 10/29/11 [Last modified: Saturday, October 29, 2011 10:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida Gators announce 2018 football schedule


    The Florida Gators announced their 2018 football schedule Tuesday, including an early SEC game against Kentucky and a matchup against Colorado State, which was part of coach Jim McElwain's buyout from the Rams.

  2. For starters: Rays vs. Cubs in Joe Maddon's return to Trop


    Joe Maddon's return to the Trop will be the main story tonight, but there is still a baseball game to be played, between a Cubs team surging toward another division title with six straight wins and a Rays team struggling to keep alive a longshot bid for the second AL wildcard spot.

    RHP Chris Archer will be on …

    Joe Maddon returns to Tropicana Field tonight for the first time since leaving the Rays to become manager of the Cubs.
  3. Cannon Fodder podcast: Bucs could run into their nemesis


    Greg Auman finishes wrapping up the Bucs' win against the Chicago Bears and looks ahead to Sunday's game at Minnesota, where Tampa Bay could run into nemesis Case Keenum, in our latest Cannon Fodder …

    Bucs outside linebacker Lavonte David (54) sacks Los Angeles Rams quarterback Case Keenum (17) during a 2016 game. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Strange case: Bucs could face nemesis Case Keenum again


    Who, you might wonder, will be the first NFL quarterback to beat Jameis Winston three times?

    Case Keenum of the Minnesota Vikings drops back to pass in the first half Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. [Getty Images]
  5. USF men's basketball gets off lightly with NCAA


    Former USF men's basketball coach Orlando Antigua, center, with former assistants Oliver Antigua, left, and Rod Strickland during a game at the Sun Dome on Nov. 9, 2015. (Octavio Jones, Times)