Boys soccer: American Heritage, Boca Raton head group of stellar squads
Monday, November 07, 2011
by Jeff Greer
The local boys soccer season might be more interesting than it's been in a while. There are two nationally ranked programs - American Heritage and Boca Raton - and a host of talented teams right behind.
And the best candidate to unseat those two powers could be Park Vista.
The Cobras return nine starters and add three solid newcomers to a team that should have quality "all over the field," according to coach Tony Shellard.
"I have one hell of a team," the eighth-year coach said. "Our only concern will be finishing, and we've been working on that a lot. Last year, we dominated games but couldn't score."
Park Vista was 13-5-5 last season, finishing second in its district behind Boca and losing in the regional quarterfinals. The Cobras' new district (10-5A) will be a tough one with Atlantic, Boca Raton, John I. Leonard, Santaluces, Spanish River and West Boca.
A solid back line anchored by junior sweeper Nick Tripodi gives the Cobras a sturdy defense, and the midfield is packed with talented seniors and juniors.
"It's essentially the same group we had last year, but they're a year older," Shellard said.
ESPN-ranked Boca is fifth in the nation among teams that play in the winter. American Heritage was rated fourth in that same pre-season poll.
Boca returns several star juniors, including midfielders Nico Midttun and Hunter Bandy, fullbacks Giovanni DiMauro and Gilmar Rodrigues, and goalkeeper Brian Kilgallon. They'll help ease the transition after graduating stars Colby Burdette and Mateus Oliveira.
The Bobcats are aiming for their 10th consecutive district title and fifth trip to the state final four in the last eight seasons. Last winter, Boca lost 2-1 to Parkland-Douglas in a regional quarterfinal.
Defending state champ American Heritage brings back Post Player of the Year Brian James, a Virginia commit. The Stallions play Montverde Academy, the top-ranked team in ESPN's pre-season poll, on Saturday. Heritage tied 2-2 with Boca in a pre-season match on Thursday.
Jupiter lost star Jake Weiss, but the Warriors are always talented and return eight starters. Palm Beach Gardens also returns eight starters, and Santaluces has 11 returnees. Leonard will be young but defensively sound. Wellington and Royal Palm Beach are always quality teams, too.
TEAMS TO WATCH
American Heritage, Dwyer, Boca Raton, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, Pope John Paul II, Park Vista, Royal Palm Beach, Spanish River, Wellington
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Hunter Bandy, midfielder, Boca Raton, junior
Mike Cioci, fullback, Pope John Paul II, senior
Kent Culp, fullback, Dwyer, senior
Brian James, midfield, American Heritage, senior
John Jules, forward, Palm Beach Gardens, senior
Brian Kilgallon, goalkeeper, Boca Raton, junior
Troy Manheimer, fullback, American Heritage, senior
Eric Mastromarino, goalkeeper, Jupiter, senior
Nico Midttun, midfield, Boca Raton, junior
Nick Tripodi, fullback, Park Vista, junior