Ridaught: Girls, boys soccer teams prepare for postseason play

The P.K. Yonge boys soccer team is one of several teams preparing for the district playoffs next week.
Addisu Frisbie (45) leads P.K. Yonge with 22 goals heading into tonight's regular season finale vs. Redeemer Christian (Ocala). Also pictured are Thomas "Leif" Lewis (3) and Sebastian Hochman (11) of the Blue Wave.
Photo by Ethan Bertrand

The high school soccer season is winding down.

District tournament play begins next week and the postseason continues next month with regional quarterfinals beginning on Feb. 6 (Classes 2A-4A) and Feb. 13 (5A-7A).

They will culminate with the state championships Tuesday-Saturday, Feb. 20-24 (2A-4A), and Tuesday-Saturday, Feb. 27 – March 2 (5A-7A).

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Two of the top boys teams in Alachua County went head-to-head on Thursday night in the Alachua County Cup championship game at Citizens Field.

The two teams played to a draw on Jan. 8.

However, this time Buchholz defeated Santa Fe (Alachua), 2-0, to win the title and finish the regular season unbeaten for the first time in program history.

“That was great,” said Buchholz coach Phillip Journey. “It was a goal that we set out to do from the beginning of the season and we worked hard to achieve it and it has put us in a good position for districts.”

Both teams now get ready for district tournament play.

Buchholz (10-0-3) will compete in 6A-District 4, while Santa Fe, which plays its regular season finale tonight at Columbia (Lake City), will host the 4A-District 2 tournament.

Junior Luke Xue and senior Jonathon Mosley each had a goal on Thursday night for the Bobcats, who lost 1-0 to Forest (Ocala) in last year’s district semifinals.

This year’s seniors made it to the championship game as sophomores and they are hoping to parlay their No. 1 district seeding to a title.

The Raiders (8-3-2), who only had five wins last year, are also a No. 1 seed.

The 4A-District 2 quarterfinals are on Wednesday, followed by the semifinals on Friday and the championship game on Tuesday, Jan. 30, at 6 p.m.

After an 8-9-4 campaign last year, P.K. Yonge (15-2) has almost doubled its win total from last year.

“Very successful and joyful,” P.K. Yonge boys soccer coach Jose De Leon said when asked to assess this season overall. “Our team exhibits exceptional chemistry, cohesion, and camaraderie, which has poised us for success. These qualities have not only improved our overall performance but have also created a fulfilling and enjoyable working environment for everyone and have spilled over the rest of the program with similar success in JV and middle school. More than building a successful varsity team, we are building a successful soccer program and community in the 6-12 student athlete community of boys soccer.”

Through 16 games, junior Addisu Frisbie had a team-leading 22 goals.

“Addisu is very humble,” De Leon said. “He possesses an eagerness and willingness to learn like nobody else. He is what we often refer to in soccer as a ‘poacher’ or a ‘goal poacher.’ Addisu may not excel in various aspects of the game, such as intricate dribbling, passing, or creating opportunities, but has speed and athletic qualities paired with a natural instinct and ability to find himself in goal-scoring positions. His key characteristics include speed, athleticism, clinical finishing, positional awareness, and poise under pressure.”

The Blue Wave, who host Redeemer Christian (Ocala) in tonight’s regular season finale, lost to Trinity Catholic (Ocala), 2-1, in last year’s 3A-District 4 semifinals.

De Leon said there are several keys to winning the district title this year.

“Keep growing our chemistry, cohesion, and camaraderie on and off the field,” he said. “We need to master set-piece situations, both defensively and offensively, keep a mental resilience, and be prepared to adapt tactics based on the opponents and the flow of the game, as well as maintaining our composure.”

Oak Hall School is another team in position to make a run for a district title.

The Eagles, who lost to Bell, 2-1, in last year’s 2A-District 2 championship game, are undefeated and ranked 8th in the state in Class 2A.

They finished the regular season 11-0-1 with a dominating 9-1 win vs. Interlachen on Thursday night.

On the girls side, P.K. Yonge is the top seed in 3A-District 4, which gets underway on Wednesday.

The Lady Blue Wave concluded the regular season with a 1-0 win at Class 6A Fleming Island (Orange Park) on Thursday night

“This season is going great,” said P.K. Yonge coach Rebecca Schackow. “We are very happy to finish the regular season with a record of 10-3-3, especially considering our opponents. Our team is strong and steady, as hard working as ever.”

Their 5.03 strength of schedule includes matches against 6A No. 12 Navarre (1-1 tie), 2A No. 1 St. Johns Country Day of Orange Park (1-0 loss), the sixth best team in Florida, at 7A No. 2 Bartram Trail (St. Johns), the eighth best team in Florida, and at 7A No. 7 Atlantic Coast of Jacksonville (1-1 tie), the No. 25 overall team in Florida.

“Our schedule was very challenging, by design,” Schackow said. “We know that we have to play the toughest teams possible to help us improve and grow. We are so fortunate to have so many talented teams in our area, and also only a short drive away in Jacksonville and Ocala. The bigger schools and tougher opponents have been a guide and instructor to our development. We have learned so much from other gifted players and coaches. We feel very grateful.”

Leading the way this season once again is Faith Hardy, who was second in the area in goals with 37. She has 22 goals in only 12 games played this year.

“Faith is playing her best soccer to date,” Schackow said. “It is not easy to score against the opponents we have faced this year. Faith scored in the Bartram trail game (5-1 loss), the Tocoi Creek game, twice against FSU, and assisted many goals in other big games. She is always double or triple marked because of her past stats, which adds to the challenge of racking up goals, but Faith will be the first to tell you, ‘it’s not about the stats,’ it’s about creating highlights and helping your team in any way that you can.”

Last year the Lady Blue Wave defeated Keystone Heights, 6-1, to win the district title before falling to Bolles (Jacksonville), 3-2 in double overtime, in the 3A-Region 1 Final.

Schackow said it will take consistency to win another district championship.

“If we can continue to train, study, rest, reset, review and enjoy the moments, consistently, I think we have a good shot at another district championship,” she said. “We love challenging games and know that each team in our district is going to be playing hard, so we are excited for what the next two weeks have in store for us.”

The FHSAA will release district seedings and matchups on Sunday. For more information, visit https://fhsaa.com/sports/sc

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