The southeastern part of Florida has been considered Florida’s best the past few years and while at the top that is certainly true again there is definitely a change going on underneath that level. It will make some districts more competitive and some less. It was a bit of a down year for the Miami area and Broward too. But when you look at the top of the charts you see #1 SA, #2 STA and #4 Oxbridge . . . all on a collision course early in the FHSAA brackets. None should lose district although STA will have a bit of a tussle with a well rested American Heritage-Plantation that gave then a solid run during the regular season game.
Oxbridge started slowly with losses to STA and SA but has really come on strong later in the season. SA’s only losses were to MIAA schools and they currently hold the #1 slot in IL.Com’s Southeast Regional poll and STA holds the #4 slot in that poll too.
High end teams. Easy districts. Getting ready to collide.
There’s some other quality lurking too.
Gulliver Prep finished the season strong, Belen Jesuit broke out early and stayed ranked the rest of the way. Stoneman Douglas quietly garnered a Top 20 ranking against a tough schedule and Pine Crest again showed a second half improvement that got them poll consideration.
But in all likelihood, chalk will prevail in all of these districts in my opinion.
Oxbridge is clearly the class of this district this year. 16-2 and the only losses to #1 and #2. The only way they lose this is if they get the date wrong. Wellington finished second and gets Palm Beach Central in the first round. A win for either will cap their season.
In the past this district has been Florida’s best but no longer. Boca and SJP II both struggled this year and West Boca crashes the party too but finds itself looking at the Big Red Machine facing them in the doorway. In year’s past the Boca Raton – SJP II matchup meant cage match style intensity . . . but this year it will only mean the winner plays one more game.
SA comes out of this district and it will be easier than in the past few years.
This might well be the best district in Florida that no one talks about and it will be where I am on Tuesday night. Stoneman hosts the district and that will be a big advantage. Pine Crest will have to contend with one of the surprise teams of the season in Cardinal Gibbons, a team they defeated earlier in the season by 6 goals, but a team that has finished the season very well with some solid victories so there is certainly an upset possibility there. Either way I do expect Stoneman to prevail in the district final and go on to meet STA in one of the better first round games in the state.
STA is again a dominant force and will win this district. AH-Plantation is enjoying a nice season and will hang with them for awhile but the end result will not change. NSU-University will give AH-P some heartburn for awhile in the first round but there’s a definite pecking order in this district this season and it won’t change now.
They’ve already played their first games and it will be Cypress Bay hosting Archbishop McCarthy Wednesday. CB won a one-goal game earlier in the season at home and these two teams basically treat each other as the Hatfields and McCoys so expect another barn burner this time around. A complete toss up . . . which means a star player making a key late play tends to decide things.
This should come down to Belen and Columbus Catholic and with Belen hosting this I will go with them to win their first district title, following their regular season win over CC on a neutral field. These schools are rivals in many sports and there should be a significant crowd for this one.
Gulliver Prep is by far the favorite in this one and they will meet Coral Reef in the final as the first round was played yesterday. Gulliver’s only losses are to STA, Ponte Vedra and Stoneman. Coral Reef has nothing on their resume that compares to this.
Key West took the regular season, sweeping the home and home series against the other teams but second place Westminster Christian lost to them in OT and by two goals. Coral Shores hosts the district so there’s no home field advantage.
If there is an upset lurking down here that might be one to look at but either way this is the final prize either will play for since the winner gets Gulliver in the first round.
Good luck to all the teams still playing and get out and support your team today!