Boys’ soccer | Season Preview

Cypress Bay Lightning shoots for history


Cypress Bay is aiming for a record fourth title in a row, but it must first overcome some stiffer competition and the departure of key players.

The Cypress Bay soccer team holds up a trophy and banner after winning the Class 5A State Boys Soccer Final against  West Orange at Melbourne High in Melbourne, Fla., on Feb. 16, 2013.
The Cypress Bay soccer team holds up a trophy and banner after winning the Class 5A State Boys Soccer Final against West Orange at Melbourne High in Melbourne, Fla., on Feb. 16, 2013.
Joe Rimkus Jr. / Miami Herald Staff

Boys’ soccer outlook

AMERICAN HERITAGE: Coach: Richard Jobson (3rd season). Last season: 23-5-2, 3A state runner-up. Top players: Samuel Vinson (Sr. D); Devon Nothard (So. D); Nicolance Regent (Sr. M). Noteworthy: Heritage won the 3A state title in 2012 before losing 2-0 last season to Ponte Vedra. Heritage also graduated four first-team All-County players but returns five starters.

CALVARY CHRISTIAN: Coach: Bob Barnett (8th season). Last season: 4th in district. Top players: Jake Jackson (Sr. G); Neal Savant (Sr. F); Juan Fajardo (Jr. D). Noteworthy: Another player to watch is sophomore midfielder Santiago Fajardo.

CARDINAL GIBBONS: Coach: Rafael Ferreiro (8th season). Last season: 18-6-3, 2A regional quarterfinals. Top players: Tony Segota (Sr. F); Nick Huber (Sr. M); Nicolas Ketchum (Sr. G). Noteworthy: Nine starters return, including Segota (21 goals), Huber (14 goals) and Ketchum (11 shutouts).

CHAMINADE: Coach: Sebastian Heredia (5th season). Last season: 7-10-2. Top players: Felix Bravo (Sr. D); Santi Araujo (Jr. M); Max Klyezek (Jr. M); Noteworthy: Heredia expects his team to be solid in the midfield and in goal.

CORAL SPRINGS: Coach: Robert Gofus (11th season, 1st at CS). Last season: NA. Top players: Ulises Fernandez (Jr. M); Kevin Lancheros (Jr. M); Kevin Gomez (Jr. M). Noteworthy: Six starters return, including all four midfielders.

CYPRESS BAY: Coach: John Ramos (11th season, 6th at CB). Last season: won 5A state title. Top players: Miguel Perez (So. M); Jake Fuhrman (So. M). Noteworthy: Cypress Bay has won three consecutive state titles. No Florida boys’ soccer program has won four in a row.

DEERFIELD BEACH: Coach: Frantz Edouard (9th season): Last season: 22-4, 5A regional quarterfinals. Top players: Romilaire Ambrose (Jr. F); George Cunha (Sr. G); Victor Henriquez (sr. F). Noteworthy: Five starters return, and the team is strongest at forward.

DOUGLAS: Coach: Phil Lamarre (1st season). Last season: NA. Top players: Josh Bolona (Sr. M); Kyle Spear (Sr. G); Gabriel Lopez (So. M). Noteworthy: Also watch for a pair of sophomores on the attack: Lucas De Oliveiro and Marcos Medeiros.

ELY: Coach: Concepcion Ledezma (8th season). Last season: 11-9-2. Top players: Kivens Joseph (Jr. M); Sergio Ramirez (Jr. D); Milton Cabrera (Jr. D). Noteworthy: Seven starters return, including Joseph, who had seven goals last season.

EVERGLADES: Coach: Boomer Bray (1st season). Last season: 2-6-7. Top players: Sam Valencia (Sr. M); Hakeem Duncan (Jr. F); Gabriel De Souza (Jr. M). Noteworthy: Bray takes over a program that has yet to win a district title.

FLANAGAN: Coach: Jeff Uchin (10th season). Last season: 8-7-6. Top players: Tyler Vienot (Sr. G); Oscar Valencia (Sr. D); Fernando Quiroz (Sr. D); Noteworthy: Six starters return, and newcomer Stefan Ruiz-Pardo, a junior forward from Australia, should help once he recovers from injury.

MIRAMAR: Coach: Chris Francis (third season). Last season: 7-9-2. Top players: Lovan Foster (Sr. D); Jason Chavarro (Jr. M); Fritz Richards (Sr. D). Noteworthy: Four starters return, including Foster, who is a fourth-year starter. Chavarro and Richards are third-year starters.

MONARCH: Coach: Stephen Lorenc (27th season, 11th at Monarch). Last season: 13-2-6. Top players: Gian Scalise (Sr. M); Jordano Chea (Jr. F); Rodrigo Silva (Jr. M). Noteworthy: Monarch has won seven district titles since opening in 2003. The team is out to bounce back from last season’s loss in the district semifinals on penalty kicks.

NORTH BROWARD PREP: Coach: Diego Cardona (20th season, 10th at SB). Last season: 17-2-3, 2A regional semifinals. Top players: Mateo Correa (Sr. M); Leo Castillo (Jr. D); Ruben Culebro (Sr. D). Noteworthy: Cardona is expecting a good season in ultra-competitive Class 2A.

NORTHEAST: Coach: Rayon Gayle (5th season). Last season: 8-10-2. Top players: Gabriel Darocha (Fr. M); Bryan Silva (Jr. M); Elvis Montes (Fr. M). Noteworthy: Ten starters return, and some talented freshmen have arrived to add to the talent base.

NOVA: Coach: Martin Woodstock (26th season). Last season: 7-9-4. Top players: Alex Dixon (So. D); Jake Dubin (Sr. D); Sammy Stanley (Sr. D). Noteworthy: The aforementioned three starters return on a team that should boast a strong defense.

PEMBROKE PINES CHARTER: Coach: Paul Frechette (15th season, 1st at PPC). Last season: 18-6, 3A regional semifinals. Top players: Andre Blackman (Sr. D); Andres Gonzalea (Sr. M); Lucas Batista (Sr. F). Noteworthy: The team’s top six players are seniors, including goalie Kenny Felix.

PIPER: Coach: Fernando Ramirez (6th season). Last season: 7-7-7; Top players: Ricardo Palacios (Sr. D); Warwick Sterling (Jr. M); Henry Bermeo (Sr. M); Noteworthy: Eight starters return, but the goalie is new.

PLANTATION: Coach: Robert Scott (5th season). Last season 0-16. Top players: Anthony Gonzales (Jr. M); Malik Smith (Sr. D); Andy Louis (So. F). Noteworthy: Five starters return from a team that was very inexperienced last season in terms of soccer knowledge.

SOUTH BROWARD; Coach: Vladimir Brorombozin (7th season). Last season: 14-5-2, 4A regional quarterfinals. Top players: Gianni Ricca (Sr. D); Nicolas Restrepo (Sr. D); Leonardo Fernandez (Sr. D). Noteworthy: Senior goalie Anthony Granada and senior forward Josue Orduna also return.

SOUTH PLANTATION: Coach: Georges Roumain (3rd season). Last season: 9-6-2, 5A regional quarterfinals. Top players: Sorel St. Fleur (Sr. D); Zach Khandakji (Sr. G); Votular Jean-Baptiste (Sr. M). Noteworthy: Eight starters return, and Roumain is excited about senior defender Ernesto Torres, who played for Cuba’s Under-15 national team.

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Coach: John Walsh (23rd season). Last season: 15-3-3, 5A regional semifinals. Top players: Nick Hinds (So. F); Daniel Gagliardi (Jr. G); Travis Brumfield (So. F). Noteworthy: Eight starters return, including Hinds, who had eight goals, and Brumfield, who had seven. Aquinas’ 62 wins in the state tournament rank third in Florida history.

WESTERN: Coach: Bill Hawley (17th season, 1st at Western). Last season: 11-5-3. Top players: Lorenzo Berardi (Jr. M); Brice Johnson (So. M); Ethan Elalouf (So. F). Noteworthy: Freshman forward Edwin Agudelo is listed among the team’s top six players.

WESTMINSTER ACADEMY: Coach: Jose Del Pino; Last season: 10-5-3. Top players: James Scassera (So. M); Patrick Sastre (Fr.); Jason Saenz (So. D). Noteworthy: Senior goalie Cody Grimm also returns.

Special to the Miami Herald

Cypress Bay this season will attempt to become the first boys’ soccer team in Florida history to win four consecutive state titles.

Winning four in a row is a monumental task in itself, but the job will be made even more difficult by factors that can be labeled under the headings of “competition” and “departures.”

Taking competition first, Cypress Bay this season has been moved into a district with fellow Class 5A power St. Thomas Aquinas, which has won five state titles since 1996, most recently in 2011.

When asked about the challenge of having to beat Cypress Bay, Aquinas coach John Walsh responded quickly.

“We already beat them,” he said, referring to a 2-0 home win over Cypress Bay in last year’s regular season.

Of course, the Raiders failed to finish the job of knocking off Cypress Bay because they lost in the regional semifinals to Taravella 2-1 in overtime.

This season, the teams will face each other twice in the regular season and could battle again in the district final and in the regional semifinals.

“St. Thomas is a competitive program,” Cypress Bay coach John Ramos said. “We have to go through these types of programs at some point.”

If Ramos seems like he is stifling a yawn as he speaks, that’s just his low-key personality. In fact, he said he didn’t even know Cypress Bay had a chance to make state history until he was told recently by a visitor from outside his program.

Besides, Ramos has enough to worry about with his roster. He lost four first-team All-Broward players to graduation: goalie Hector Fernandez, defenders Humberto Diaz and Breno Ertty and forward Nicolas Guevara.

In addition, junior forward Daniel Gutierrez, who made second-team All-Broward last season, and senior Rafael Arcila were lost to academy ball, and junior forward Daniel Reese transferred.

Opponents, however, caution against underestimating Cypress Bay. The Lightning is one of five programs in Florida history to win three consecutive state titles in boys’ soccer. Aquinas, led by Walsh, is the only other South Florida school to accomplish the feat, winning from 1996 to 1998.

“The reason they are so good every year is primarily because of John Ramos and the coaching,” Walsh said of his rival. “Also, the Weston [soccer] academy is right across the street from where they practice, and it serves as a natural farm system. Good players want to play with other good players.”

Ramos agrees that he has access to a tremendous amount of talent.

“Our biggest advantage is that we have a lot of kids coming from a club-soccer environment in Weston,” Ramos said. “We had 135 kids try out this year, and 100 had actually played club. We weeded that out to 40 kids on our roster.

“I would never claim that our kids come in as garbage cans and we turn them into state champions. Our job is to implement a style that we play and to create team chemistry. Plus, we have always exposed our younger players to a lot of playing time. So when we lose players, we are still able to keep the program at a good level.”

A “good level” is a massive understatement.

During last season’s playoff run, Cypress Bay did not allow a goal. The year before, in five regional playoff games, Cypress Bay outscored its opponents 23-3 and never won by fewer than two goals.

The 2011 regional run was closer as Cypress Bay won four of its five games by a 2-1 score, including two on penalty kicks.

Cypress Bay’s last elimination loss came on Feb. 12, 2010 — 3-1 in a regional final against eventual state champion Boca Raton.

This season, Cypress Bay will be led by sophomore midfielders Miguel Perez and Jake Fuhrman, both of whom made second-team All-Broward as freshmen.

Perez said Cypress Bay wants revenge against Aquinas, and — more than that — it wants to make history by winning state.

“It’s really important for us to win because we lost five players to [academy ball], and people don’t think we have a chance,” Perez said. “If we can win again, it would mean a lot to the school.”

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