The dream seasons continue tonight for three Hillsborough County soccer teams. Chamberlain, Jesuit and Berkeley Prep enter sectional title games with a spot in next week's state tournament on the line.
All three will have to win on the road to prolong their seasons.
Chamberlain (17-1-1), ranked No. 8 in Class 4A, visits top-ranked and defending state champion Countryside (21-0-1) at 7 p.m. Jesuit (16-5-4), which is ranked No. 4 in Class 3A, faces unranked Fort Myers-Cypress Lake (16-0-2) at 7:30 p.m. And Berkeley Prep (17-4-1), the No. 2 team in Class 2A, is at seventh-ranked Orlando-Bishop Moore (13-10-5) at 7 p.m.
Chamberlain is enjoying its best season ever. With the county's top scorer in Juan Panesso (32 goals, 15 assists, 79 points) and top goalkeeper in Dan Lancz (0.67 goals-against average), the Chiefs have won 14 consecutive games, including a shootout victory over No. 4 Bloomingdale in Tuesday's Region III title game.
Countryside owns a 15-game winning streak, including a 7-1 whipping of Sarasota Riverview in Tuesday's Region IV championship, and hasn't lost in its last 41 games dating to Dec. 3, 1990.
"It's going to be a good game," said Chamberlain coach Kelvin Jones. "We're a good and talented team. On offense I know we're explosive. I know we can get goals. But when I look back, I feel like we haven't had our best game yet. We haven't put it all together. If we do, we can win by a couple goals. We feel they're ready for a fall."
The only blemish on Countryside's record is a tie with Dunedin in December. Many of Chamberlain's players are familiar with the Cougars from club team play in recent years.
"We expect an excellent game," said Countryside coach Ron Marn. "The kids know each other. My kids have a healthy respect for their players."
Jesuit, which has lost just once in its last 16 games, defeated No. 10 New Port Richey-Ridgewood 4-1 in Tuesday's Region V title game after a scoreless first half.
"The game was at a pace where we were not quite into our rhythm," said Jesuit coach Bob Bauman. "But after halftime, we started to pick up some momentum. It was just a matter of time before we scored. The big surprise is we scored four goals. It's the best surge we've had all year. We finished every opportunity."
The Tigers won a state title in 1987 and have been among the state final four in four of the past five years, including last year. Chris Cole leads the Tigers' offense with 18 goals and freshman goalkeeper Erik Simms has recorded eight shutouts.
Cypress Lake, which claimed its first regional championship with Tuesday's 2-1 win over Port Charlotte, is led by Bill Rufener's 24 goals. Goalkeeper Sal Pirrone has six shutouts. Its only imperfections this season are ties with Riverdale and Naples.
"We're real proud to be representing this area," said Cypress Lake coach Bob Stachler. "I think soccer is really coming on in this area and we hope to prove that Friday night."
Bauman, a Tampa lawyer, has been in Miami since Wednesday on business, leaving assistant Drew Griffin to conduct practices.
"I have three days of depositions scheduled and don't know when I'll be done," Bauman said. "I may just meet the team in Fort Myers. But the team really doesn't miss a beat without me. They're focused on winning, so my not being there is not a distraction."
Berkeley Prep required a second-half goal by Robbie Borham, some strong midfield and defensive play by Joe Marshburn, and goalkeeper Matt Hill's ninth shutout of the season to earn a 1-0 victory over Mulberry in the Region IV game Tuesday. It marked the first time the Buccaneers have won a regional title.
"We made things happen at midfield, so we had the opportunities up front," said Berkeley coach Dave Zimmerman. "We've never played Bishop Moore, but we strongly feel we can beat anybody in the tournament. The only times we've lost is when we beat ourselves."
The Bucs have outshot their last two opponents 63-14.
Bishop Moore, last year's state runner-up to Clearwater Central Catholic and a two-time state champion, has won four in a row under first-year coach Tony Sayers-O'Neill.
Class 4A, Section II
7 p.m. _ No. 8-ranked Chamberlain (17-1-1) vs. No. 1 Countryside (21-0-1).
Class 3A, Section III
AT FT. MYERS-CYPRESS LK.
7:30 p.m. _ No. 4 Jesuit (16-5-4) vs. unranked Fort Myers-Cypress Lake (16-0-2).
Class 2A, Section II
AT ORLANDO-BISHOP MOORE
7 p.m. _ No. 2 Berkeley Prep (17-4-1) vs. No. 7 Orlando-Bishop Moore (13-10-5).