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Boys soccer: State semifinal recap

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Class 7A

Plant 1, Lake Mary 0

The Panthers, who made the playoffs for the first time since 2013, continued their charmed postseason run by reaching the state championship match for the first time. 

It was not easy. Locked in a scoreless state semifinal battle, Plant finally broke through in the second half when Joey Pleinis scored the lone goal of the match. 

Yannick Parkes helped the Panthers maintain their lead by recording four saves to preserve the shutout. 

Plant, ranked eighth in 7A by MaxPreps, enters Saturday’s state final on an eight-match win streak. 

Class 6A

Niceville 3, Mitchell 2

For the second straight season, the Mustangs made the state semifinals.

Once again, Niceville stood in the way. 

The rematch turned into another frustrating result

Down 2-0 in the first half, Mitchell mounted a furious rally. Mathias Pulido and Aidan Meyer each scored in the second half to tie the match. 

But that is as close as the Mustangs would get to reaching the state final for the first since winning the program’s only title in 2013. 

Class 5A

Jesuit 2, Jacksonville Stanton 1

The names change, but the results remain the same.

After graduating the bulk of its starting lineup, including Carson Bien, the 5A state player of the year, the defending state champion Tigers simply reloaded for another title. 

The new group maintained the program’s lofty status. Entering last week’s state semifinals, Jesuit was ranked first in 5A, first overall in the state and fourth nationally.

Still, the Tigers had come back to return to the final. 

Down 1-0 at the half, Jesuit rallied with goals by Aris Pantzalis and Baylen Young to take the lead. Phillip Falcon III made five saves to help seal the win. 

Class 3A

Tampa Catholic 8, Jacksonville Bolles 1

After falling short in last season’s state championship match, the Crusaders have made it back to the final. 

This time, Tampa Catholic is favored to win the school’s first boys soccer title, especially after its performance in last week’s state semifinal. 

There was a scoring bonanza with Crusader goals coming in bunches against Jacksonville Bolles. Six players scored, including two goals from Marcello Valbuena. 

Jack O’ Leary and Xavier Floyd each had two assists. 

Tampa Catholic enters Thursday’s final ranked first in 3A, second overall in the state and seventh nationally.  

State final schedule

All matches at DeLand’s Spec Martin Stadium. Admission is $9 in advance, $12 on day of event. Parking is free.

Class 7A

Plant (18-3-1) vs. Naples Gulf Coast (19-3-2), 1 Saturday

Class 5A

Jesuit (17-1-2) vs. Belen Jesuit (17-3-1), 4 Saturday

Class 3A

Tampa Catholic (24-2) vs. Miami Westminster Christian (11-3-2), 7 Thursday

Boys Soccer

Marcello Valbuena named state boys soccer player of the year

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Tampa Catholic’s Marcello Valbuena, who led the Class 3A state champions in scoring, was named Mr. Soccer, the award given to the top boys player in the state by the Florida Dairy Farmers. 

Valbuena, named the 3A player of the year last week, received 12 of the 17 first place votes and had 134 points, 52 more than Fort Myers Canterbury’s McLaren Baggett, the 2A player of the year. 

This is the ninth time an area player has won the top overall honor in boys soccer. The last was Tampa Prep’s Shaddy Douidar in 2013. 

Valbuena, a senior forward, decided to play high school soccer for the first time this season after playing strictly at the club level. The University of Tampa signee finished with 36 goals and five assists. In the 3A state title match, Valbuena connected on two goals within an eight-minute span to give Tampa Catholic its first lead, one that would last the rest of the match to secure the Crusaders’ first state title in boys soccer. 

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Boys Soccer

Weeki Wachee’s Seth Tarbox named 4A player of the year

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Weeki Wachee’s Seth Tarbox, one of the area’s top playmakers, was named the Class 4A state player of the year in boys soccer by the Florida Dairy Farmers.

The senior forward teamed with Jacob Kelly to form a dynamic 1-2 punch for the Hornets. Kelly scored a team-high 33 goals, many of which were set up by Tarbox. 

Tarbox was adept at putting the ball through the net, too. The Warner signee finished with 25 goals and 25 assists to help Weeki Wachee advance to the region finals. 

The winners in each classification were selected through voting from a statewide panel of boys soccer coaches and media representatives. They are now eligible to be named the overall winner in the state, which will go through another round of voting and likely be announced next week.  

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Boys Soccer

Boys soccer: Jesuit unable to repeat as 5A state champions

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Winning a state title is difficult.

Repeating as a state champion is even more challenging. 

Graduation can take away key players. Complacency can take hold. Anything can happen. 

Jesuit’s boys soccer team knows. 

The Tigers, one of the area’s most storied programs, has won seven state titles, second locally behind Clearwater Central Catholic’s nine championships.  But only during a three-year stretch from 1997-99 was Jesuit to win those titles consecutively. 

That was the task the Tigers faced after taking home the 5A title last season. Jesuit said goodbye to 16 players who graduated, including Carson Bien, the 5A state player of the year. 

Losing that much talent off a roster would pose difficulties for any program. But Tigers always have reinforcements.

The newcomers filled in adequately. The holdovers took on bigger roles as leaders. The wins kept coming, so much Jesuit found itself in a familiar spot by making it back to Spec Martin Stadium in DeLand for Saturday’s 5A title match. 

But the Tigers could not hold on to a first half lead, falling in overtime to Belen Jesuit 2-1.

In the first half, Jesuit took the lead on a goal from Ty Cabbasa. Belen Jesuit answered early in the second half on a header from Aidan Miles to tie the match. 

It stayed that way through the end of regulation and one overtime period. 

In the second overtime, the Wolverines converted on a second-chance ball off a free kick to take the lead.

Jesuit tried to rally but could not get a shot to fall through the net that would have tied the match.

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