It’s unlikely that an opponent will outsmart the St. Thomas Aquinas defensive duo of Brittany Simpson and Mackenzie Marsh, both of whom have committed to play soccer for Yale University next year.
Marsh, the center back in Aquinas’ three-deep alignment, has a 4.75 grade-point average and is interested in studying medicine or business.
Simpson, who plays left back, is a math and chemistry whiz with a 4.65 GPA. She committed to Yale as a sophomore, one year before Marsh.
“When [Simpson] committed, I was so happy for her,” Marsh said. “She’s my best friend. I’ve known her for seven years, and I knew she wanted to go to a good school and play college soccer.”
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Marsh won’t be the first Ivy League soccer player in her family. Her brother, Alexander, started six games last season as a freshman midfielder at Dartmouth, scoring two goals. He has made four starts so far this season.
Carlos Giron, who begins his 33rd season running the storied St. Thomas program that owns the Florida record with 13 state titles, said Simpson and Marsh aren’t just intelligent.
They’re talented, too.
Defenders Simpson, Marsh and Mackenzie Fee protect young goalie Abby Tangallo, a sophomore who started last season when Aquinas won its third Class 5A state title in the past four years.
The team’s leading scorers are the Dorosy sisters.
Senior midfielder Dallas Dorosy, who committed to Florida State in May, had 15 goals and 17 assists last season.
Isabella Dorosy, who committed to FSU earlier this month, had 21 goals and 12 assists as a freshman last season.
FSU, by the way, is ranked No.2 in the nation in women’s soccer.
“Dallas is one of the top players in the state,” Giron said. “And ‘Bella’ is as [skilled] as Dallas already. For Florida State to recruit her even though she is only a sophomore — she has to be good.”
Aquinas, which returns nine starters from last season, is also relying on senior midfielder Isabella Martinez (seven goals, 17 assists), junior forward Connor Lhota and senior midfielder Sydney Talbot.
But St. Thomas is not the only talented team in Broward this season.
Plantation American Heritage, which is second in Florida history with eight state titles, including the past two in a row and four in the past six years, will be led by University of Florida recruit Melanie Monteagudo, a senior forward who was the state’s Player of the Year last season.
Monteagudo, who set a Broward record with 63 goals and added 30 assists last season, powers an offense that also includes juniors Zandy Soree (21 goals, 18 assists) and Dejah Cason (14 goals, 15 assists).
Heritage’s goalie is senior Julia Kingsley, who had 10 shutouts last season to help her team win the Class 3A state title with a 29-1 record.
Other Broward teams to watch this season include Cypress Bay, Pines Charter and Archbishop McCarthy.
But at least until further notice, St. Thomas and Heritage reign supreme in Broward County as well as in the state.
Jan. 5-10 GMAC tournament week.
Jan. 22Regional quarterfinals.
Jan. 27Regional semifinals.
Jan. 30Regional finals.
Feb. 4 State finals at Eastern Florida State College in Melbourne.
2014 STATE CHAMPIONS
Class 5ASt. Thomas Aquinas
Class 3APlantation American Heritage
Class 2ADelray American Heritage
Class 1AOrange Park St. Johns Country Day
1. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Coach: Carlos Giron, 33rd year, 729-70-21. Last year: 20-3-2 (State champions). Top players: M Dallas Dorosy, Sr.; F Isabella Dorosy, So.; M Isabella Martinez, Sr.; D Brittany Simpson, Sr.; D Mackenzie Marsh, Sr.; M Sydney Talbot, Sr.; F Connor Lhota, Jr.
2. DOUGLAS: Coach: Laura Rountree, 16th year at SD, 20th overall. Last year: 18-3-2 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: F-M Vanessa Agudelo, Sr.; F-M Kelly Field, Sr.; D Emma Jacobs, Jr.; D Gillian Morrison, Jr.; M Brittany Berns, So.; D-M Nia Perkovich, Jr.
3. WEST BROWARD: Coach: Carlos Ortega, 1st year. Last year: Regional quarterfinalist. Top players: M Sabrina Amador, Sr.; M Lauren Varona, Jr.; F Carla Otero, Sr.; D Danielle Antieau, Jr.; F Nicole Zebergret, Sr.; M Alexandra Graett, Jr.
4. EVERGLADES: Coach: Boomer Bray, 2nd year, 9-7-1. Last year: 9-7-1. Top players: F Michelle Montes De Oca, Sr.; D Melissa Mesa, Sr.; M Kayla Ahrens, Sr.; D Jazmin Mastea, Sr.; D Oriana Lugo, Sr.; M Nicole Lennie, Jr.
5. SOUTH PLANTATION: Coach: Renee Wallack, 1st year at SP, 3rd overall, 20-10. Last year: 5-11-1. Top players: D Tajah Dallemand, So.; F Emily Eachus, So.; GK Shelby Mariano, Sr.; D Molly Gillchrest, Sr.; D Sofia Mangachi, Jr.; M Gracie Osgood, So.
1. AMERICAN HERITAGE: Coach: Cindy Marcial, 5th year, 86-3-2. Last year: 29-1 (state champions). Top players: F Melanie Monteagudo, Sr.; F Dejah Cason, Jr.; M Zandy Soree, Jr.; D Jaida Scott, So.; D Melissa Curran, Sr.; GK Julia Kingsley, Sr.
2. ARCHBISHOP MCCARTHY: Coach: Mike Sica, 5th year, 78-23-8. Last year: 23-4-1 (regional semifinalist). Top players: F Taylor Shore, Sr.; F Yari Bradfield, Sr.; M Sabrina Sanon, Sr.; M Colleen Becker, Sr.; D Gaby Marenges, Sr.; F Amanda Perez, Jr.
3. CARDINAL GIBBONS: Coach: Margo Flack, 15th year, 223-85-36. Last year: 10-5-4. Top players: M Mackenzie Crittenberger, Jr.; D Kelsey Stafford, Sr.; D Tina Chambliss, Jr.; GK Valencia Vigarino, Jr.; GK Ryleigh Brown, So.; M Nora Tight, So.
1. NORTH BROWARD PREP: Coach: Tricia Amrhein, 7th year, 90-36-20. Last year: 17-4-2 (regional quarterfinalist). Top players: F-M Morgan Sherman, So.; M Rachel Blow, Jr.; D Amanda Graboski, Sr.; M Morgan Hawes, So.; F-D Lexi DuBrueze, So.; M Emma Dineen, Sr.; M Adrianna Dubay, Sr.
2. PINE CREST: Coach: Pepi Vallejo, 8th year, 94-54-25. Last year: 14-5-2 (regional quarterfinalist). Top players: F Jordyn Elliot, Jr.; GK Sohia Danielsen, Jr.; M Isabelle Turner, Jr.; F Autumn Clark, Jr.; M Allie Gershman, Sr.; M Eva Spyredes, Fr.
3. UNIVERSITY SCHOOL: Coach: Evan Grosz, 8th year, 107-42-22. Last year: 14-5-4. Top players: D-M Jessica Roman, So.; D-M-F Gaby Rodriguez, Sr.; D-M-F Megan O’Toole, Sr.; M-F Valerie O’Toole, Sr.; M Alexa Perez, Fr.; D-M-F Jordan Perez, Fr.
4. CHAMINADE-MADONNA: Coach: Sebastian Heredia, 2nd year at CM, 8th overall. Last year: 7-11-2. Top players: D-M Jackie Yao, Sr.; M-F Jacqui Koebel, Sr.; D-M-F Alexis Whitaker, Fr.; M-F Shannon James, Jr.; M Alyssa Mendez, Fr.; D-M Sophia Gifford, Fr.
5. CALVARY CHRISTIAN: Coach: Hernando Rojas, 3rd year. Last year: 8-8. Top players: F-M Aly Mielke, 8th; D-F Beatrice Blanco, 8th; F Ellya Lowe, 8th.
6. CORAL SPRINGS CHARTER: Coach: Kristin Grassi, 3rd year. Last year: 9-8-4. Top players: GK Alexa Downie, Sr.; F Heather Davis, Sr.; F Kylie Driscoll, Sr.; D Xiomara Butts, Sr.; D Claudia Alvarez, Sr.; D-M Daniella Correa, Sr.
1. WESTMINSTER ACADEMY: Coach: Dale Renwick. Last year: 16-2-2 (regional finalist). Top players: F Lexi Kinsey, Jr.; M-F Camryn Pagliaro, Fr.; F Eboni Brown, Sr.; D Kathryn Ford, Fr.; D Randi Moore, So.; M Katie Nava, So.
2. HIGHLANDS CHRISTIAN: Coach: Shelly Wik, 7th year. Last year: 2-12. Top players: M Ketsiah Nahr, Sr.; M-D Kealey Wik, Sr.; M Sara Carroll, So.; M Sierra Burrell, Sr.; M Maddie Lawhon, Sr.; D Eveliese Valazquez, Sr.
Andre C. Fernandez