Of the 19 state titles won by Broward County boys’ soccer programs, 14 have been divided between American Heritage (five), St. Thomas Aquinas (five) and Cypress Bay (four).
With the district playoffs set to start Monday, those three powers are again favored to make deep runs. But other schools — most notably unbeaten Douglas — are aiming to break up this sporting monopoly.
Here’s a closer look:
▪ Class 5A: Douglas (14-0-3) has clinched the top seed in District 12, going 8-0-3 in league play. Third-year Eagles coach Phil Lamarre is establishing a winning culture and has set up a challenging week ahead, playing Cypress Bay on Wednesday and Aquinas on Friday. Cypress
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In his first two years at Douglas, the Eagles were 2-0-2 against those two schools.
“These are two of the biggest games that our boys look forward to every year,” Lamarre said. “We always play at Aquinas so our boys can get used to turf if they see it in the playoffs.”
Douglas is led by junior midfielder Felipe Mendes, the team captain. His statistics are not overwhelming, Lamarre said, but he is a quality player who pushes his teammates to be better and contributes an impressive body of work.
But Mendes and his teammates will have to be at their best if they are to take the Eagles past the regional finals for the first time in school history.
Cypress Bay (12-0-1), the top seed in District 13, is the defending state champ with four titles in the past five years. It will take a monumental effort for any team to get past the Lightning.
▪ Class 4A: Aquinas (7-3-2), which most recently won state in 2011, is facing stiff competition in South Florida this season. Fort Lauderdale (9-4-3), which is the second seed in District 14, has been known to raise its level in the playoffs.
Belen Jesuit (15-0-2), the top seed in District 16, is likely the No. 1 team in the area. But Doral Academy (13-1-3) is also a threat.
And other schools, such as Northeast and Nova, are plotting upsets.
▪ Class 3A: American Heritage (14-2-4), which most recently won state in 2012, is the top seed in District 15. But Hallandale (7-3-2) split its two district matchups with Heritage and has locked up the No. 2 position. And third-seeded Pembroke Pines Charter (7-6) is also dangerous.
Heritage is powered by junior forward Landon Lupo, who leads the team with 12 goals. Seniors Nikita Maximov and Daniel Lombo are top defenders.
▪ Class 2A: Several Broward teams that aspire to a championship in this class are no doubt aware of the presence of Miami’s Gulliver Prep, the reigning two-time title-holder. The top Broward team in 2A is Cardinal Gibbons (7-0-3), the No. 1 seed in District 14. But Gibbons will also have to be wary of top District 15 seed Ransom Everglades (15-4).
▪ Class 1A: Westminster Academy (5-3-1), which sits atop District 13, appears to be the top Broward team in a fairly wide-open field of South Florida contenders.