If the Tampa Prep girls soccer team captures the Class A state championship this year, each girl on the team may end up sending thank you notes to the Lakeland George Jenkins squad.
Jenkins, a perennial state power in Class 4A, downed the Terrapins 6-2 last week, providing Tampa Prep a healthy reminder of what it will require to get to state.
"They know to play in the state finals we're going to have to play at that level," Coach Cindy Schofield said. "We took it on the chin, but it was the best thing for us. We learned a lot about ourselves: how to handle different situations, how to make adjustments and who to move around.
"They were able to see what we need to do to get to the state final."
Last season, the Terrapins reached the state tournament for the fourth consecutive year and advanced to the 2A state semifinal before losing to Winter Park Trinity Prep 2-1.
Two keys have returned to help produce an even better outcome in 2012: seniors Alyssa Bryant and Colby Maffei. Bryant earned Schofield's praise this season after moving from mid centerfielder to mid defender.
"She's helped calm things down in the back and really lead us in the back," Schofield said. "She's been key for us."
Meanwhile, Maffei has continued the goal scoring that helped her earn a scholarship offer from LSU. Schofield said she doesn't need a lot of time or space to put the ball in the back of the net, and she can score in a variety of ways.
Sophomore Alexandra Daley added another dimension this year, rotating between forward and defender depending on the opponent's attack. If the Terrapins advance through the Class A, District 7 tournament that begins Monday, Dalely likely will be called upon to draw defensive pressure away from Maffei.
Overall, the Terrapins appear primed to make another run, but they can't take any of their opponents lightly.
"I get a little worried early on in the district tournament because some teams sit back and bunker and we have to adjust," Schofield said. "But once we reach regionals, the team will be focused. It's a mentality. They want to be in the final four.
"They want to be in the state finals."