MELBOURNE -- Lourdes soccer coach Ray Walden called this past week a “mini Super Bowl week” for his team.
Alumni, parents, fans and even supporters from all-boys’ school counterpart Columbus and nearby Belen have offered their best wishes to the Bobcats in anticipation of the school’s first state soccer final.
But Walden’s senior-led team didn’t need any help handling the distractions.
“Of course, it’s been a huge deal around the school all week; that’s why I joke that it’s our own little Super Bowl,” Walden said. “But our team has remained consistent in any situation this season.”
Lourdes (20-2) has put together poised efforts throughout a season in which it has outscored its opponents 107-3 and advanced to the school’s first state final in any sport other than basketball and cross-country.
The Bobcats will try to join the cross-country team as the only other sport to win a title when they take on Oviedo (15-6-3) at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Class 5A final at Melbourne High School.
Oviedo will have a bit of an advantage in state experience.
The Lions are back in the state final two years after winning the school’s first championship.
Oviedo also was a state runner-up in 2008 and reached the final four in 2009.
But Lourdes has looked like the veterans throughout the playoffs, outscoring its six opponents 24-0.
Walden credited his six seniors — Bailey Plummer, Amanda Delgado, Nicole Perez, Cristina Rodriguez-Garcia, Lori Rodriguez and Sofia Rosell — for the team’s even-keel approach to matches.
“Sometimes you see teams sort of ease into a match,” Walden said. “With us, we’ve come out strong from the start and attacked in every game and especially during the playoffs.”
Sophomore Michelle Figarola and Plummer have been responsible for most of the scoring punch.
But it’s the defense that has been solid throughout, only allowing two teams (Gulliver and Douglas) to score on it all season.
Perez, Rodriguez, Rodriguez-Garcia and Carolina Perez have been solid in front of goalkeeper Jenny Herold.
Oviedo’s scoring tandem of junior Emily Kobryn and senior Gabrielle Rodriguez (combined 20 goals) will try to test that Lourdes line Saturday.
Oviedo advanced to state by winning its semifinal against Clermont East Lake in penalty kicks.
“They have girls with experience, and they are a sound team,” Walden said. “They seem to be peaking right now during the playoffs, and that’s what you love to see out of your team.”