Boys’ soccer | Season Preview

Heated rivalry between Ransom Everglades and Gulliver Prep simmers down


Rivals Ransom Everglades and Gulliver Prep have been put in separate districts, meaning they will play fewer times this season.

Boys’ soccer outlook

BELEN JESUIT: Coach: Tanger Mendonca (7th season). Last season: 14-4-4. Top players: Gabriel Lopez (Sr. G); Frankie De La Camara (so. F); Joseph Beguiristain (Sr. D). Noteworthy: The defense should be good with Lopez in goal and Beguiristain, Anthony Castro, Carlos Acevedo and Rey Hadiedo on defense.

COLUMBUS: Coach: Michael Stewart (5th season, 4th at Columbus). Last season: 9-5-5. Top players: Eddy Diaz (Jr. M); Danny Del Rio (Sr. M); Alejandro Pita (Sr. M). Noteworthy: Defenders Stefano Dongo and Joey Tolgyesi return after starting every game for the Explorers as sophomores.

CORAL GABLES: Coach: Joey Hudak (7th season). Last season: 10-1-4, 5A regional semifinals. Top players: Julian Grela (Sr. F); Daniel Hernandez (Sr. D). Noteworthy: Nine starters return, including Hernandez, who made first-team All-County last season. Gables has an experienced team with 13 seniors.

CORAL PARK: Coach: Michael Fotso (6th season). Last season: 12-8-4, regional quarterfinals. Top players: Emanuel Castaneda (Sr. M); Andy Corzo (Sr. D); Kevin Gonzalez (Sr. D). Noteworthy: Eight starters return, including star goalie Eduardo Morales, who sustained a knee injury in August, and his return is in doubt.

CORAL REEF: Coach: Abiodun Adeyemi (6th season, 4th at CR). Last season: 16-7-8, regional semifinals. Top players: Jean Paul Lopez (Sr. D); David Paredes (Sr. M); Austin Ruel (Sr. M). Noteworthy: 10 starters return. The only loss was forward Jonathan Rizekella, the team captain who had 12 goals.

FERGUSON: Coach: Jose Aguilar (21 season, 10th at Ferguson). Last season: 11-5-3. Top players: Carlos Sanchez (Sr. M); Hakeem Asad (Sr. M); Douglas Guerra (Sr. M). Noteworthy: This could be a big season for the Falcons, who get Sanchez, Asad and Carlos Galvez back after a year hiatus.

FLORIDA CHRISTIAN: Coach: Hugues Pericles (6th season). Last season: 3-8-1. Top players: Mateo Lengua (M); Harry Lengua (G); Matthew Santovenia (M). Noteworthy: Also key are defender Chris Steel and midfielder Nicholas Freixa.

GULLIVER PREP: Coach: Matias Asorey (4th season, 2nd at GP). Last season: 17-2-3, 2A state runner-up. Top players: Jesus Bolivar (Sr. M); Alberto Poleo (Jr. M); Mark Verway (Sr. F). Noteworthy: Also watch for senior defenders Patricio Hernandez and Louis Leveque and junior forward Alex Moztehzardeh.

HEBREW ACADEMY: Coach: Khart Minn (1st season). Last season: 7-5. Top players: Gabriel Apoj (Fr. F); Ethan Daniel (Sr. D); Kevin Ahadi (Sr. F). Noteworthy: Apoj, just a freshman, will try to build off a promising five-goal season.

LASALLE: Coach: Jorge B. San Miguel (2nd season). Last season: 10-4-2, 2A regional quarterfinals. Top players: Alejandro Cardenas (Sr. G); Bryan de Freitas (Sr. M); Chris Bared (Sr. D). Noteworthy: The team will try to defend its district title.

MAST ACADEMY: Coach: Rob Suarez (8th season, 7th at Mast). Last season: 9-5-4. Top players: Michael Morejon (Sr. G); Luis Garcia (Jr. D); Andres Garcia (Sr. D). Noteworthy: Sophomore forward Daniel Godoy had six goals last season.

MATER ACADEMY: Coach: Arlington Teheran. Last season: 6-9-4. Top players: Manuel Martinez (Fr. F); Daniel Espantoso (Sr. G); Jhon Ollarvides (Jr. M). Noteworthy: Teheran said his team lacks depth and will rely heavily on Espantoso.

MIAMI BEACH: Coach: Edgar Botto (6th season). Last season: 15-4-2, regional quarterfinals. Top players: Cristian Sanchez (Sr. F); Aaron Defreitas (Sr. M); Otto Quiroz (Sr. M). Noteworthy: Sanchez had 20 goals last season for the Hi-Tides, Defreitas added 10 and Quiroz had nine.

MIAMI COUNTRY DAY: Coach: Jeff Watson (32nd season, 19th at MCD). Last season: 14-7-3, 1A regional quarterfinals. Top players: Pablo Mejia (Jr. MF); Agustin Popiloff (so. MF); Sam Benson (Jr. MF). Noteworthy: Genaro Garcia is out for the year because of an ACL injury, but Mejia’s return from injury is big.

NORLAND: Coach; Klever Estrella (2nd year); Last season: 2-8. Top players: Tevoan Prince (Sr. M); Jordan Owens (Sr. G); Kemar Morris (Sr. F). Noteworthy: The Vikings, who lost seven starters from last season, are strongest on defense.

PALMER TRINITY: Coach: Scott du Feu (32nd season, 13th at PT). Last season: 16-6-2, 1A regional quarterfinals. Top players: Josh Reid (Sr. D); Daniel de Feu (Sr. G); Alejandro Rodriguez-Santilli (Sr. F). Noteworthy: Nine starters return. Goalie de Feu just came back after missing five weeks because of a concussion.

RANSOM EVERGLADES: Coach: Dave Villano (28th season). Last season: 22-3-3, 2A regional semifinals. Top players: Matt Lirman (Sr. F); Jake Deuel (Sr. G); Adrian Alfieri (Sr. M). Noteworthy: 10 seniors graduated, but Lirman (21 goals) and Deuel (17 shutouts) will lead the way.

SCHECK HILLEL: Coach: Ben Magidson (7th season). Last season: 22-2-1, 1A state runner-up. Top players: Aaron Franco (Jr. M); Julian Ribak (Jr. F); Benjamin Vaisberg (Jr. D). Noteworthy: All 11 starters return from the team that made a magical run to the state final before losing 1-0 to Tampa Prep.

SOUTH DADE: Coach: Ed Callahan (2nd season). Last season: 9-7-2, 5A regional finals. Top players: Carlos Villegas (Jr. G); Jeffrey Urea (Sr. M); Carlos Leal (Sr. D). Noteworthy: The speedy Bucs are trying to build off of last season’s regional-final finish in their first year under Callahan’s direction.

SOUTH MIAMI: Coach: Victor Arias. Last season: 1-5-9. Top player: Wilson Hebert (Sr. M). Noteworthy: Hebert had 12 goals last season, but it could be another long year for the Cobras.

ST. BRENDAN: Coach: Rel Del Toro (13th season). Last season: 7-10-1. Top players: Badih Merheq (Sr. M); Julian Quinones (Jr. G); Erick Quinones (Jr. F). Noteworthy: Quinones is strong in goal, but the defense in front of him must be rebuilt after heavy graduation losses.

SUNSET: Coach: Jay Flipse (17th season, 7th season at Sunset). Last season: 20-2-2. Top players: Eddy Pineiro (Sr. F); Fernando Hernandez (Sr. M); Daniel Ponce (Sr. M). Noteworthy: Pineiro led the county last season with 22 goals. Senior forward Jonathan Diaz is another player to watch.

TERRA: Coach: Steven Rojas (5th season). Last season: 11-7-3. Top players: Augustin Cioni (Jr. F); Thomas Barreiro (Sr. F); Cristian Urrego (Sr. D). Noteworthy: Cioni had 11 goals last season. Goalie Nicholas Shenck, who had five shutouts last season, also returns.

WESTLAND: Coach: Gregory Solano Sr. (10th season, 7th at Westland). Last season: 9-7-6, 4A regional quarterfinals. Top players: Kevin D. Gonzalez (Jr. G); Marco Alonso (Sr. M); Renato Gonclaves (Sr. D). Noteworthy: Last season, the team won the first district title in any sport in the school’s six-year history.

WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN: Coach: Fernando Hohl (6th season, 4th at WC). Last season: 10-10-1, 2A regional semifinals. Top players: Joseph Alamo (Jr. F); Tyler Ursuy (Sr. M); Elijah Medder (Jr. M). Noteworthy: Many of these players made it to the state semifinals in 2012, but that was in 1A — not the tougher 2A.

Special to the Miami Herald

The boys’ soccer rivalry between Gulliver Prep and Ransom Everglades, which for years has been one of the most intense in South Florida, won’t be nearly the same this season.

Gulliver and Ransom have been placed in different districts this season, which means they won’t meet four times as they did last season, when Ransom beat Gulliver in a district final decided on penalty kicks. Gulliver eliminated Ransom six days later in overtime in a regional semifinal.

Gulliver also won the team’s two regular-season matchups.

“I have mixed feelings about it,” Ransom coach Dave Villano said of the new districts. “It was a great rivalry with Gulliver — and it still will be.

“I think we’re both happy we don’t have to play each other four times in a season — it was emotionally draining.”

The teams will play just once in the regular season, meeting Dec. 10 at Ransom. If both teams win their districts, they could meet again in the Class 2A regional semifinals.

Matt Lirman, a senior forward for Ransom who has competed with virtually all of Gulliver’s players in club ball, said he is disappointed with the new districts.

“When we beat them in the district final, that was one of the best wins in my life,” Lirman said. “There were so many people in the stands cheering. Winning that game was euphoric, and now we don’t get to play them as much.”

Lirman said that with just one scheduled game against Gulliver, the December matchup will be “elevated” in terms of intensity.

“[The rivalry] gets heated,” he said. “We really want to beat those guys. And since we only play once, it makes that game much more important.”

Gulliver and Ransom are two of the best programs in 2A, which some consider the most competitive class in the state. The top four teams from last season in 2A return to the class, including defending champion Jacksonville Bolles, which beat Gulliver 1-0 in the final.

In addition, Tampa Prep, which won two consecutive Class 1A state titles and six since 2005, has moved up to 2A. The same is true of Melbourne Central Catholic, a state semifinalist in 1A that is now in 2A.

“I’ve always thought that 2A is the most competitive class in the state, and that is even more true now,” said Villano, who added that other 2A teams to watch include North Broward Prep, Pine Crest and Delray American Heritage.

Here’s a look at the state’s other classes as it relates to Miami-Dade County teams:

•  Class 5A: Jay Flipse, who hasn’t served as a head coach since Sunset won a national title in 2005, is back directing the Knights.

But the Knights lost seven starters from last year’s GMAC champs, and Flipse is not optimistic of his team’s chances to win big in 2013-2014.

Instead, Flipse said three schools from his district, Varela, Ferguson and Coral Reef, “are better than every other team in Miami.”

Varela, which won state titles in 2007 and 2008, is the last Miami-Dade team to win a large-school championship. Coral Reef joined Coral Park and Coral Gables in the regional playoffs last season.

•  Class 4A: There are 11 Dade teams in 4A, and two of them — American and Westland — made last season’s regional playoffs. Westland, in fact, won the first district title in any sport in the six-year history of the school. But Belen, with a strong defense and midfield, could be the Dade team to emerge in 4A.

•  Class 3A: There are only four Dade teams in this class — Doral, Hialeah-Miami Lakes, Jackson and Norland —and none are likely to pose a threat to win a title. Doral and HML might have the best shot.

•  Class 1A: Scheck Hillel, which made a stunning run to its first state final before losing 1-0 to Tampa Prep, returns all 11 starters.

Palmer Trinity, which returns nine starters, and Miami Country Day also are challengers. There are 11 Dade teams in 1A, but Palmer coach Scott de Feu said Hillel is the team to beat.

Hillel coach Ben Magidson said being a great program is about more than one good year.

“The kids have to get hungry again, and I have to re-inspire them,” he said. “Our job is not done until we have the first state title in Hillel history.”

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

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