Broward County girls’ soccer programs have combined to win at least one state championship in 20 of the past 21 years, including five consecutive seasons, a streak that has a strong likelihood of continuing in 2014.
Three of the five most recent titles were won by American Heritage, the reigning Class 3A champion. The other two were won by St. Thomas Aquinas in succession (2011, 2012, both in 5A).
Of course, it helps when Broward has Heritage and Aquinas, the two most accomplished girls’ soccer programs in state history. Aquinas leads Florida with 12 state titles, and Heritage is second with seven.
Heritage coach Cindy Marcial believes her team, which will be led by junior forward Melanie Monteagudo, will contend for another trophy this season.
“I expect to make it to the final four,” she said. “I hope to peak again at the right time, when it counts. The regular season for us is for practice and lessons for playoffs.”
Monteagudo had 34 goals and 15 assists last season and is one of three first-team All-Broward players who have returned to Heritage. The others are senior midfielder Michaela Kopecki, who had 11 goals and 31 assists, and senior goalie Jennifer O’Campo, who produced 13 shutouts.
Second-team All-Broward midfielder Martha Thomas (17 goals, 14 assists) returns, and Marcial believes sophomore Alex Soree and junior defender Melissa Curran are primed for big seasons.
That core group should help to make up for the five starters who graduated, including first-team All-Broward stars Kiana Clarke and Alyssa Robinson.
Over at Aquinas, coach Carlos Giron begins his 32nd season with a young but talented team.
Aquinas graduated four first-team All-Broward stars, including Jessica Hoyt and Sara Perlman, who combined to score 48 goals last season on a Raiders team that reached the regional semifinals.
Junior midfielder Dallas Dorosy is Aquinas’ only returning first-team All-Broward player, and she will get help from sophomore forward Connor Lhota, junior midfielder Isabella Martinez and junior defender Mackenzie Marsh.
The Raiders do have some veterans on the back end, including goalie Brittany Macaluso and defenders Kaitlin Tighe and Ariana Fontenot.
“We’re solid in all positions,” Giron said. “We should start a little slow [because of our youth] and pick up by the end of the season. We have a strong schedule, which should help us prepare for the playoffs.”
Aside from Heritage and Aquinas, the only other Broward team with more than two state titles is Douglas, which has won five and has appeared in 20 consecutive state tournaments. That’s the second-longest streak in the county behind Aquinas.
Douglas, which finished 22-1 last season — losing in the 5A regional semifinals to Aquinas — is rebuilding after suffering some heavy losses.
The team’s key player is senior goalie Liz Amanda Gonzalez, who had 16 shutouts last season and made first-team All-Broward. But Gonzalez is expected to miss some time this season while she competes for the Jamaican U-20 national team.
In addition, senior defender Daniella Oleyek, who also made first-team All-Broward, committed to FIU and decided to skip her senior high school season. And starter Dominique Cole and her family moved out of the county.
That leaves veteran coach Stu Katz with a young group.
“We’re starting three sophomores and one freshman,” he said, “but we should be very strong defensively.”
Among Douglas’ top players are senior midfielders Monica Rojas and Rebecca Foley and senior defender Serena Delgado. Junior forwards Vanessa Agudelo and Kelly Field will be asked to take up the scoring slack.
One to watch
Among the other large-school teams to watch are Cypress Bay, which made the 5A regional finals last season, and West Broward, which made the 5A regional semifinals.
Cypress Bay is led by sophomore forward Maria Munoz, who scored 18 goals as a freshman and made first-team All-Broward.
Sari Kruetzer, who scored eight goals in five games as a midfielder and made second-team All-Broward, returns for her senior season.
Kruetzer had played defender until Taylor Farrington and Inbar Cohen sustained ACL injuries within a week. Both are now recovered and ready to compete this season.