Nationally-ranked Gulliver Prep and Cypress Bay can add to their storied legacies in boys’ soccer this week.
For Miami’s SLAM Academy, which is completing its second season of varsity competition and first in district play, this is an experience it hopes is the first of many.
The Titans (16-5-1) swept their way through the Class 1A regional playoffs, becoming one of the youngest programs to ever reach state.
Junior midfielder Wilfredo Dilbert has led SLAM with 23 goals, and senior midfielder Caleb Acosta has chipped in 15 goals.
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Senior goalkeeper Jefry Padilla has been stellar during the playoffs and has allowed only 12 goals in 19 starts this season.
The Titans have no easy task if they are to continue their quick rise as they take on Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic in a Class 1A semifinal Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. at Eastern State College in Melbourne.
Santa Fe Catholic (14-8-1) is making its first state appearance since 1997 and is led by junior forward Joey Dotson, who has 30 goals this season and 62 for his career while playing center midfield.
If SLAM wins, it would take on either Bradenton St. Stephens or Maitland Orangewood Christian. Neither team has won a state title before.
Gulliver (17-2) is a favorite to repeat as state champions in Class 2A and claim its sixth state title overall.
The Raiders are ranked No. 9 nationally by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, and are replete with talent.
Senior Andy Alvarez (19 goals and 18 assists) is one of the top players in the state and is committed to West Point (Army). Senior Alexander Moztarzadeh (nine goals and six assists) is committed to North Carolina, and Alberto Kike Poleo is committed to UCLA.
Senior forward Adriano Castro leads the team with 22 goals and nine assists.
Gulliver’s defense has once again been a major reason for its advancement to Melbourne for the second consecutive season.
The Raiders have conceded less than 10 goals for the second season in a row, allowing nine overall.
Gulliver takes on LaBelle Wednesday at 5:30 in a Class 2A semifinal. LaBelle is making its first appearance at the state final four. Should the Raiders advance they would play either Melbourne West Shore, a state champion in 2012 or Jacksonville Bolles, a team making its fourth trip to state in the past five seasons.
After a year away, Cypress Bay found its way back to Melbourne under first year coach Colin Ilgner, who had previously coached at Somerset Academy.
The Lightning (19-1), ranked No. 5 by the NSCAA, are led by forwards Nicholas Arboleda (13 goals) and Franco Massacssi (15 goals), midfielder Jake Fuhrman (14 assists) and goalkeepers Juan Calle and Javier Silva.
Cypress Bay takes on Haines City in a Class 5A state semifinal Friday at 5:30 p.m. Haines City (14-4-6) is led by Marvellous Olubela (29 goals, 13 assists), who has scored five goals in a game three times this season.
Should the Lightning prevail, it would play either Winter Garden West Orange or Orlando Freedom in the final Saturday at 3 p.m. Cypress Bay beat West Orange to win its third state title in a row in 2013.
STATE BOYS’ SOCCER FINALS
When: Wednesday through Saturday.
Where: Eastern Florida State College, 3865 N. Wickham Road, Melbourne.
Admission: $9 per session.
Defending state champions – Class 5A: Columbus; 4A: Melbourne; 3A: Merritt Island; 2A: Gulliver Prep; 1A: Orlando First Academy.
Wednesday’s schedule – Class 1A semifinals: Maitland Orangewood Christian vs. Bradenton St. Stephen’s, 10 a.m.; Miami SLAM Academy vs. Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic, 12:30; Class 2A semifinals: Jacksonville Bolles vs. Melbourne West Shore, 3; Miami Gulliver vs. LaBelle, 5:30.
Thursday’s schedule – Class 3A semifinals: Land O’Lakes Sunlake vs. Fort Walton Beach Choctawhatchee, 10 a.m.; Immokalee vs. Merritt Island, 12:30; Class 1A final: 3; Class 2A final: 6.
Friday’s schedule – Class 4A semifinals: Tallahassee Chiles vs. Wesley Chapel Wiregrass Ranch, 10 a.m.; Naples Barron Collier vs. Palm Beach Lakes, 12:30; Class 5A semifinals: Orlando Freedom vs. Winter Garden West Orange, 3; Cypress Bay vs. Haines City, 5:30; Class 3A final: 8.
Saturday’s schedule – Class 4A final: noon; Class 5A final: 3.