Near-perfect match: Benjamin boys, girls soccer teams are yet to be beaten this season
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
by Post Staff
In October, on the first day of Benjamin girls soccer practice, senior forward Kali Chaplin looked around the field and made a prediction.
"Wow, we're going to have a lot of goals scored," she recalled thinking, "and a lot of goals scored on us."
Fortunately for her, only one of those ideas came true.
Headed into Wednesday's District 12-2A semifinal against King's Academy, fourth-ranked Benjamin (16-0-1) has scored 107 goals and allowed just 17. However, the Lady Bucs might not be the most successful soccer team at their Palm Beach Gardens school.
Benjamin's third-ranked boys are 14-0-2 heading into Wednesday's game against Clewiston and Friday's regular-season finale against Pembroke Pines-North Broward Prep. Benjamin's combined 30-0-3 record is best in the area.
"It's something that's very rare at The Benjamin School," Chaplin said. "We've had decent teams, but we haven't been a powerhouse in soccer."
In Palm Beach County, that kind of success is seen nowhere but American Heritage, whose boys and girls teams own a combined nine state championships since 2004, including the last three girls titles and last two boys titles. Heritage's top-ranked girls are 18-0-1; the second-ranked boys are 17-3-1.
A Benjamin soccer team has never reached state, but that could change this season.
The girls have four dominant players: Chaplin (32 goals, 25 assists for 89 points) and junior forward Katie O'Hare (29-14--72), the second- and third-leading scorers in the area. At midfield, they have freshman Kylie Borislow and sophomore Giovanna Giraldi, an American Heritage transfer.
"I'm solid everywhere else," said their coach, Ed Chaplin. "I lost six seniors last year, five starters. But I got back seven soccer players. It's a huge difference."
The girls' only draw was against Cardinal Newman, which it could face in a district final. After that November match, in which the Bucs lost a 3-0 lead and tied 4-4, they re-focused on defense. Two strong attackers, freshman Blake Packer and junior Hayley Ciklin, shifted to the back line.
"At that point, we realized no matter how many goals we score, we had to defend our net," Kali Chaplin said.
The boys went into this season with that focus. Senior keeper Kody Ruedisili, who has signed a baseball scholarship to Wofford University, has eight shutouts and a 0.88 goals-against average. Thanks largely to strong play from senior center-backs Stephan Saffar and Alex Schepps, the Bucs' high-pressure defense and strong possession game has let in just 14 goals.
After starting last season 10-1, they leveled off and fell to King's Academy in the regional quarterfinals Last Friday, they wrapped up the No. 1 seed in District 12-2A with a 1-0 win over King's Academy. It was their seventh shutout in a row.
"Things are starting to click and peak," coach Bill Whittaker said. "We're looking to make a run here."
If they do, Kali Chaplin and her teammates will be there cheering. The boys would do the same.
"We push each other," she said. "They continue to win, we have to continue to win. No one wants to be the first one to lose."
Benjamin boys soccer team goalie Kody Ruedisili and girls midfielder Kali Chaplin on January 15, 2013. The Benjamin school's soccer teams are undefeated (a combined 30-0-3) as of Monday. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)