Boca Chris­tian eyes state trip Top player to di­vide time with club, but Blaz­ers have depth.

The Palm Beach Post - - SPORTS - By Adam Licht­en­stein Palm Beach Post Staff Writer alicht­en­

Boca Ra­ton Chris­tian is a small school with high ex­pec­ta­tions.

The Blaz­ers, com­ing off the pro­gram’s first dis­trict ti­tle, have a trip to the soc­cer state cham­pi­onships on their minds now.

“Last year, our goal go­ing into the sea­son I set for the team was to win that dis­trict ti­tle, that first-ever dis­trict ti­tle,” coach David Weil said. “We knew we had the team, we knew we had the tal­ent. It was just a mat­ter of do­ing it.

“This year, we ex­pect to win the dis­trict. It’s not a goal any­more so much as it’s an ex­pec­ta­tion . ... Our goal is higher. Our goal that we’ve set is to get to states this year.”

The Blaz­ers fin­ished 15-4-4 last sea­son, mak­ing a run to the Class 1A re­gional fi­nals — deeper than any other Palm Beach County boys team ad­vanced in last year’s play­offs — be­fore los­ing 1-0 to Lake­land Chris­tian, the even­tual state run­ner-up.

As usu­ally hap­pens, Boca Chris­tian did lose key play­ers to grad­u­a­tion. First-team All-Area de­fender Felipe Fon­seca grad­u­ated, as did se­cond-team for­ward Ale­jan­dro Barcelo and honor­able men­tion goal­keeper Michael Brad­way.

But the key piece to the Blaz­ers’ com­ing-out sea­son is back. Ju­nior for­ward Ste­fan Kn­ef­fel, the Post’s Small Schools Player of the Year, re­turns af­ter hav­ing 42 goals and 12 as­sists last sea­son.

“I want to win states and just score more goals ev­ery

year,” Kn­ef­fel told the Post af­ter last sea­son. “Ev­ery year I try to score more goals and more as­sists, and that’s how I set my goals.”

There’s one catch, though. Kn­ef­fel’s club sched­ule over- laps Boca Chris­tian’s, so he and Weil worked out a sched­ule where he could play for both teams. That will mean miss­ing some of the Blaz­ers’ games.

But Weil is con­fi­dent the rest of the team can pick up the slack. He said he ex­pects a lot from ju­nior mid­fielder Joao “J.C.” Con­ce­icao and ju­nior for­ward Felipe Robayo.

built our team around that player for the past two years,” Weil said. “He’s just that good that we can just build the team around him — with a lot of tal­ent at other places, but they’ve all re­lied on him. This year, that’s not go­ing to be able to be done.

“So there’s two ways the team can re­spond: Either we can all take a step up and all get bet­ter, and then when he rides in, he’ll just add to it and we’ll be a bet- ter team for it. Or we could crum­ble with­out him. And we have the tal­ent where we don’t even need Ste­fan to be as suc­cess­ful.”

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