Rui Farias already knew the match was a big one.
After all, the St. Petersburg girls soccer team he coaches took on Osceola Thursday night with the winner likely securing a spot in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference title match.
Farias did not want to add any more significance to this one, so he avoided mentioning that he was going for his 400th career victory.
“I was hoping not to add any more pressure,” Farias said.
To win, to reach this major milestone, would be a tribute to his career. Farias started coaching at St. Petersburg in 1999. He guided the girls program. He coached the boys program. For a while, he was in charge of both teams at the same time.
They each had success under his tutelage, reaching the conference title match, winning district titles and making deep playoff runs too many times to count.
The wins kept coming, so much that Farias had put off retirement because he knew he was close to hitting the 400-win plateau.
Still, it was not just about victories. Farias has helped roughly 50 players, boys and girls, sign with college programs.
On Thursday, the Green Devils started strong. Anna Cubito, a midfielder, scored on a penalty kick in the first half. The defense, always tenacious, did the rest, holding the Warriors scoreless in a 1-0 victory.
Farias’ efforts to keep the milestone a secret did not work. Afterward, the girls showered him with confetti and sprinkles. They held up congratulatory signs. They whooped it up with noise makers.
“To get to 400 means I’m getting old,” Farias said.