South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday)

Boca Raton looking to ‘reload’ to defend state title

- By Brett Shweky

Despite graduating 10 seniors a year ago, Boca Raton boys soccer coach Marcelo Castillo believes his defending Class 7A state championsh­ip team may “not be looking to so much rebuild but reload” for another potential state title run.

Adding their fourth state title in program history, the Bobcats (28-0-0) accomplish­ed perfection, capping off their undefeated season with a 2-0 victory against Orlando Boone in the state championsh­ip. Boca Raton also won championsh­ips in 1990, 2010 and 2016.

“The team that we had last year, that’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of achievemen­t,” Castillo said, who’s never had a losing record in his 16 years with the program.

“For us to have the best record ever in the history of Florida in boys soccer, obviously, we’rehappyto achieve that. Last year is the pastand was a great season; wewent down in the history books. Butwe’re starting fresh.

“Wewant to stay humble. Wewant to stay hungry.”

Led by back-to-back Sun Sentinel Palm Beach 7A-6A Boys Soccer Player of the Year Joao Negrao, Boca Raton dominated its opposition, outscoring its opponents 108-3. Recording a team-best 21 goals and 26 assists last season, Negrao’s departure will leave a significan­t void for the Bobcats.

“He was only the second kid that I’ve ever had here that has won it [Sun Sentinel Boys Soccer Player of the Year award],” Castillo said. “Those types of players only come around every few years. Any time we’ve lost a player of the year, we’ve been lucky enough to have somebody else step up.”

With four potential starters coming back, senior Ryan Baker and sophomore Caleb Chapman will be looked upon to fuel the squad back to the state title game.

Baker scored nine goals last season, including six-game winning shots, to go along with his three assists. Chapman, who was a freshman standout for the Bobcats, also posted nine goals while racking up 10 assists.

ForUnivers­ity School, the opportunit­y to defend its Class3Asta­te titlemaybe­on life supportwit­hthe impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Defeating Tampa Catholic 3-0 in the state finals, the Sharks (21-0-2) raised their second state championsh­ip, winning their first since 2011.

“We graduated 12 seniors and did not have many new incoming students this year due to COVID-19,” University School coach Thiago Oliveira said. “This year— if we play — will be all about rebuilding our program.

“We currently have four eighth graders, one seventh grader and even one sixth grader rostered. We have a young team this year.”

U-School is unable toplay any matches until January, and NSU University President George Han bury I I will reassess whether the team will be allowed to compete this upcoming season.

In addition to the strains caused by COVID-19, the Sharks will also be faced with the difficult task of replacing its Sun Sentinel

Broward5A-2ABoys Soccer Player of theYear, Sebastian “Nino” Smith, alongwith 11 other graduated seniors.

Collecting 14 goals and

32 assists last season, Smith finished his career with 32

goalsandan­eye-opening94 assists.

“He was one of the most skillful players I’ve ever had the pleasure of coaching,” Oliveira said. “He was certainly by far the most dedicated and focused athlete I’ve ever coached.

“Julio Rodriguez is one of Nino’s best friends and has learned a lot from Nino in the past. I think he is more than ready to lead our group asoneof theteamcap­tains.”

Having previously played in limited action, Rodriguez, whois a senior, has collected six goals and one assist in his career.

Holding the second team captain slot, senior Carlos Levy is also expected to assume a larger role for the Sharks after posting three goals and two assists last season.

Still in the hunt for their first state championsh­ip, South Broward and Pembroke Pines Charter come into the season with the hopes of avenging losses in the state finals.

Defeated in a lategame heartbreak­er, South Broward (18-5-2) gave up four goals inovertime to lose to Niceville 7-3 in the Class 6A state championsh­ip.

Graduating 10 seniors from the previous season, NicoRobles looks toassume a larger role for the Bulldogs, following his solid six-goal and 10-assist junior campaign.

“I think he’s going to be very good for us this year. He actually scored two goals for us in the finals,” South Bro ward coach Lion el Brownsaid.“He’s been very versatile in themidfiel­d for us. He’s going to be one of themainguy­s that’s going to huge for us this year when it comes to galvanizin­g and getting the guys together.”

Fellow senior Matthew Randall will also be a main contributo­r for South Broward after compiling five goals and nine assists a season ago.

Getting to the state finals for the first time, Pembroke Pines Charter (18-3-2) fell short of making program history, losing to Tampa Jesuit 5-4 in the Class 5A state championsh­ip.

Headlined by Nicholas Roman, the Jaguars will return an experience­d roster as they bring back eight seniors.

“Nicholas Roman for us is oneof the top players in high school aswell as club soccer here in South Florida,” Pembroke Pines Charter co-coachMarc Lue Young, whocoaches withhis cousin Nicholas Lue Young.

“He has this aggressive mentality when he picks up the ball. He wants to either score or wants to assist via playmaker. He’s one of the players that has those killer instincts.”

Placing first on the team in assists (12), Roman complement­ed his stellar distributi­ng ability by recording 22 goals.

Other players towatch

Broward

American Heritage: Carlos Palacio, MF; John Jago, D; Cardinal Gibbons: FrankRoig, MF; GregPriyen, MF; Noah Hart, D; Coral Springs: Michael Castillo, MF; Cypress Bay: William Torres, D; Fort Lauderdale: Gabriel Gonzalez, MF; Miramar: Shawn Smikle, MF; Monarch: Jonathan Silva, MF; MatheusAlv­es, F; Zayne Palomino, F; North Broward Prep: Christian Dohler, MF; Ethan Strati, D; Martin Campedelli, F; Pembroke Pines Charter: Alek Coupet, D; Matthew Gordon, D; St. Thomas Aquinas: FernandoVe­lasco, D; Matthew Pryce, MF; South Broward: Matthew Randall, F; University School: Ethan Subachan, F; Western: Michael Torres, F; Westminste­r Academy: Bence Demko, F; Ethan Rose, D; JulianCame­jo, MF; MicahLewis, MF;

PalmBeach

AmericanHe­ritage-Delray: Anthony Vargas, MF; Chris Knight, F; Conor Deal, D; Ethan Scala, D; Atlantic: Dakendy Philibert, D; Sumeet Jenna, GK; Benjamin: Trevor Natalie, F; BocaRaton: DanielTran­i, MF; Boca Raton Christian: DannyCoelh­o, F; Greg Martens, D; Liam Barker, GK; Cardinal Newman: Thomas Marciano, MF; Donna Klein: Ariel Magin, MF; King’s Academy: Bernie Cueto, D; Eric Bowden, D; Jared Brown, F; Sean Corrigan, MF; Lake Worth Christian: Craig Hanlon, F; Gary Lucian, F; Henry Lukosavich, MF; Ryan Rahde, MF; ThomasRoge­rs, D; Olympic Heights: Brett Mazo, MF; Roberto Bontempi, F; Park Vista: Andrew Labrec, F; LiamLazere, D; LukeFerazz­oli, MF; Nathan Parks, GK; RoyalPalmB­each: Vicente DeBrito, MF; St. Andrew’s: BobbyLomax, MF; Jonathan Hertz, D; Joseph England, GK; Timothy Martin, MF; St. JohnPaul II: Alan Alvarez, MF; JorgeMarzo, F; JT Salvato, D; Thanh Tung Vu, MF; Seminole Ridge: Rene Daal, MF; Spanish River: David Gabbay, D; Diago Reyes, MF; Isaac Schweiger, D; Tayton Osborne, GK; Tyler Jones, F; Suncoast: Ryan Bourne, MF;

Important dates

Feb. 1-10: District tournament­s

Feb. 17: Regional tournament quarterfin­als

Feb. 20: Regional tournament semifinals

Feb. 23: Regional tournament finals

Feb. 26: State semifinals March 3-6: State championsh­ips

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