Girls’ soccer | Season preview

Palmer Trinity girls’ soccer team poised to make a turnaround


With the return of Sarah Medina, who set a school scoring mark two years ago, and a new coach, Palmer Trinity is set for a big season.

Season outlook

AMERICAN: Coach: Rosie Lopez (9th year). Last season: 6-8. Top players: Susana Vizcaino (Sr. M); Lenysse Dyer (Jr. F); Michelle Murch (Sr. G); Noteworthy: The team has speed and athletic ability, but the defense will have to be rebuilt.

CARROLLTON: Coach: Donald Chin Lov (1st year). Last season: 9-3-5; Top players: Samantha Hoadley (Sr. M); Isabella Kang (So. F); Olivia Garcia-Velez (So. G); Noteworthy: Four sophomores are among Carrollton’s top six players, including Sofia Miguez and Erica Garcia.

CORAL GABLES: Coach: Eddie Aguirre (5th year). Last season: 15-5; Top players: Nelly Sagarra (Jr. F); Hadley Stringer (Sr. M); Claire Shillington (Jr. D). Noteworthy: Segarra (32 goals), Stringer (17 goals) and senior Danielle Riesen (17 goals) key the offense. But two sophomores start on defense.

DADE CHRISTIAN: Coach: Jorge Granda (18th year). Last season: 17-6-2, regional quarterfinals. Top players: Amanda Martin. Noteworthy: Hessing had eight shutouts last season when the team won 15 in a row.

EDISON: Coach: Wilnord Emile (9th year). Top players: Lilari Volcy (Jr. M); Sylvain Faisa (Sr. D); Louisaint Roselinda (Jr. M). Noteworthy: Emile said he expects major improvement this season.

FERGUSON: Coach: Richard Lopez (8th year). Last season: 17-5-1, regional semifinals. Top players: Marcela Ramirez (Sr. D); Gabriela Bovo (Sr. D); Isa Jara (Sr. F). Noteworthy: Nine starters return, but goalie Patricia Pinckombe is gone. Two freshmen and one sophomore will compete for the goalie position.

FLORIDA CHRISTIAN: Coach: Simon Bazyler (16th year). Last season: 7-6-3. Top players: Katelyn Godoy (Jr. F); Natalia Baxieras (Sr. M); Natalia Thome (Sr. D). Noteworthy: Six starters graduated, but first-team All-Dade standout Godoy returns off a 19-goal sophomore season.

GOLEMAN: Coach: Brian Casanas (4th year). Last season: 10-11-1. Top players: Isabel Sutnick (Sr. M); Sarah Ojeda (Sr. D); Melissa Brito (So. D); Noteworthy: Only three starters return from a team that is rebuilding.

GULLIVER: Coach: Everton Edwards (5th year). Last season: 21-1-4, state runner-up. Top players: Hansine Vexlund (Sr. M); Samantha Lujan (Sr. F); Ciara Keane (Sr. G). Noteworthy: Keane posted eight shutouts last season. Vexlund had eight goals and 10 assists. Lujan had 12 goals and 14 assists.

LOURDES: Coach: Ramiro Vengoechea (1st year). Last season, reached the Class 5A title game. Top players: Christine Hoynack (Jr. M); Michelle Figarola (Jr. F), Jenny Herold (Sr. G). Noteworthy: Vengoechea, who had been coaching Gulliver’s boys’ JV, replaces long-time Lourdes coach Ray Walden.

MAST ACADEMY: Coach: Ossie Morale (16th year). Last season: 10-5-5. Top players: Mariana Speckmaier (So. F); Healy Zidik (Sr. F); Nati Gilbert (Sr. F). Noteworthy: Speckman is coming off a 40-goal freshman season, and Mast’s senior class is strong.

MATER ACADEMY: Coach: Luis Sanchez (14th year). Last season: 24-3-1, regional semifinals; Top players: Karly Villar (Sr. F); Elexus Martin (Sr. M); Julissa Benitez (Sr. M). Noteworthy: Villar leads the way after 24-goal junior season. Sophomore goalie Julia Sanchez had 19 shutouts last season.

MIAMI BEACH: Coach: Paulo De Souza (1st year). Last season: 14-2-2, regional quarterfinals; Top players: Leslie Mendoza (fr. F); Juliana Hontou (fr. F); Marta Selva (fr. M). Noteworthy: 70 percent of last season’s team is gone as evidenced by the three freshmen at the top of the lineup. Junior Christy Mehill scored 15 goals.

MIAMI COUNTRY DAY: Coach: Kyliene Carter-Weiss (7th year). Last season: 12-10-2, regional semifinals. Top players: Laurel Ivory (8th, G); Brittney Castellanos (Sr. D); Yakira Matisonn (8th, M); Noteworthy: Two eighth-graders among the team’s top three players gives hope for the future.

MIAMI SPRINGS: Coach: William Drew (13th year). Last season: 17-5-4, regional finals. Top players: Alessandra Salazar (Sr. F); Sofia De La Puente (Jr. M); Maria Salas-Ribiero (Jr. D). Noteworthy: Eight starters return from team that lost to eventual state champs.

PALMER TRINITY: Coach: Phil Gentles (1st year). Last season: 5-6-2. Top players: Sarah Medina (Sr. F); Anabel Danon (Sr. M); Mikela Garcia (Jr. M). Noteworthy: Two inexperienced freshmen will serve as the goalies, but the attack, led by Medina, is dangerous.

RANSOM EVERGLADES: Coach: Greg Noblet (7th year). Last season: 13-8-1, regional semifinals. Top players: Dani Frese (Jr. M); Charlsey Zynes (Sr. G); Gaby Henriquez (Sr. M); Noteworthy: The team is coming off its best season in more than a decade, but it graduated three key defenders.

REAGAN: Ricardo Calume (5th year). Last season: 15-1-2, regional quarterfinals. Top players: Paola Quintero (Sr. M); Daniela Borjas (Sr. M); Renarta Zatarin (Sr. D). Noteworthy: Eight starters return.

SCHECK HILLEL: Coach: Jessica Robertson (5th year). Last season: 4-5-1. Top players: Alexandra Wolf (fr. F). Noteworthy: Four key seniors graduated, leaving behind a young team.

SOUTH DADE: Coach: Erin Shelow (3rd year). Last season: 16-2-2; Top players: McKenzie VanHeusen (Jr. F); Brittany Hoskins (Jr. G); Elena Sanchez (Sr. D). Noteworthy: Standout scorer Jade Hayes is out for the year with a knee injury, but nine starters return from the team that won the GMAC title.

SOUTH MIAMI: Coach: Mario San Jorge (17th year). Last season: 12-10-1. Top players: Giselle Schreiber (Sr. M); Madison Askew (Sr. F); Sophia Hernandez (So. D). Noteworthy: Schreiber, a second-team All-County selection, and Askew, who had 12 goals, lead the way in what the coach calls a “transition” year.

ST. BRENDAN: Coach: Adalberto Jordan (7th year). Last season: 7-10-3. Top players: Alex Cinney (Sr. M); Adri Prieto (Jr. F); Mallory Ryan (Jr. G). Noteworthy: There are only five seniors on a team that is strongest in the midfield and at goalie.

TERRA: Coach: Monica Mejia (4th year). Last season: 9-9-3. Top players: Natalie Diaz (Sr. M); Adriana Speckmaier (Sr. D/G); Bianca Combe (Sr. F). Noteworthy: The top four players, including Nina Maceo, are seniors. Diaz and Combe combined to score 20 goals last season.

WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN: Coach: Mikel Hohl (2nd year). Last season: 7-4-2, regional quarterfinals. Top players: Andrea Xiques (Sr. D); Samantha Lola (Sr. D); Alexandra Machado (Jr. M). Noteworthy: Five starters return on a team that got moved up from 1A to 2A.

Special to the Miami Herald

There’s a new coach at powerhouse Lourdes Academy, a desire to overcome a serious injury at South Dade and an accumulation of talent at Ferguson and Miami Springs.

But perhaps no team is as primed for a big turnaround as Palmer Trinity, which finished 5-6-2 last season and failed to make it out of the district playoffs.

But a lot has changed since that 2-1 loss to Marathon, not the least of which is the return of Wake Forest recruit Sarah Medina, who scored 52 goals to shatter the school record in 2011-12 before spending last season in Orlando.

Palmer also has a new coach in Phil Gentles, who spent the past nine years directing middle-school soccer. This is the first time Gentles has coached Medina, but he is already a big fan.

“I’ve watched a lot of varsity soccer the past five or six years, especially Gulliver and good teams like that,” Gentles said. “Sarah is the best high school player I’ve seen, not just in talent but in terms of work ethic.”

Medina, a 5-7 senior, attended Orlando’s First Academy last season. But since that school did not have a girls’ team, she played with the boys’ team. She said she scored eight goals in 12 matches, at times embarrassing her male counterparts.

“If I made a little move, and he fell for it, his teammates said they were going to take me out,” Medina said. “But [my teammates] were very nice. They said: ‘If you touch her, you will have to deal with us.’ ”

This season, girls’ teams will have to deal with Medina, who led Palmer to the Class 1A state final in 2012.

That game resulted in a 7-1 loss to St. John’s Country Day. Still, Palmer became just the third Miami-Dade County school since 2000 to qualify for a state final in girl’s soccer, joining Lourdes and Gulliver.

Lourdes (5A) and Gulliver (2A) lost in the state final last season.

However, Gulliver won the 3A championship in 2011, becoming the first Dade girls’ soccer title-holder since Hialeah-Miami Lakes in 1993.

Ramiro Vengoechea replaces long-time Lourdes coach Ray Walden and inherits talent such as junior midfielder Christine Hoynack and senior goalie Jenny Herold, who both made first-team All-Dade last season. But both Lourdes (two) and Gulliver (three) graduated players who made first-team All-Dade last season.

In addition, three standout Gulliver players are still trying to come back from injuries, including freshman forward Samantha Earle (ankle), who scored 20 goals last season and made first-team All-Dade. The other injured standouts are junior midfielder Khara Vassell (knee) and sophomore defender Jenna Griffiths (foot).

South Dade has its own injury issue — first-team All-Dade forward Jade Hayes is out for the season with a torn ACL she sustained last April during a collision with a goalie during club season.

Fortunately for Hayes, who led South Dade with 30 goals last season, she has a soccer scholarship with the University of Tampa, a Division II program.

Read more Miami-Dade High Schools stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category