Mariana Speckmaier broke the single-season Miami-Dade County scoring record as a sophomore.
The result was a breakout season for MAST Academy. The Makos and their talented junior striker are hoping for an encore.
“She’s only gotten better in the offseason,” MAST coach Ossie Morales said. “She showed in our preseason game when she scored five goals.”
Speckmaier scored a county-record 67 goals last season, leading MAST Academy to its first appearance in the Class 2A regional finals. The surge included a second-round playoff win over perennial powerhouse Gulliver Prep and ended only after a loss to eventual state champion Delray American Heritage.
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Speckmaier’s individual performance surpassed a pair of former Gulliver players — Dara Spital (2009-10, 61 goals) and Sarah Darmanin (2010-11, 65 goals) — who each held the county record at one point.
Although only a junior, Morales said he also already received inquiries about Speckmaier from schools such as Notre Dame and LSU, and Ivy League schools such as Yale.
“She’s an incredible kid on and off the soccer field, and an excellent student,” Morales said.
Speckmaier will likely draw plenty of attention from opposing defenders this season as teams try to slow her down. That’s when MAST will draw upon other potential scoring threats, such as midfielder Sheridan Plummer. The Makos will also rely on a strong defense led by junior sweeper Kayla Pineda.
Although MAST enters as one of the favorites again in Class 2A, the region has plenty of talented teams, starting with Gulliver. The Raiders changed coaches after Everton Edwards stepped down in the offseason and was replaced by Andrew Vassell. Gulliver still figures to be one of the more-well-rounded and talented teams in the group.
Several contenders include Ransom Everglades, Broward County stalwarts North Broward Prep and Pine Crest, and Delray American Heritage.
Among Miami-Dade’s large schools, Lourdes appears to be the most-complete team again. The Bobcats return a good mix of seniors led by midfielder Christine Hoynack that should keep them among the top teams in Class 5A.
According to second-year Lourdes coach Ramiro Vengoechea, the Bobcats are looking for someone to step up at goalkeeper, vacated by graduated, three-time All-Dade selection Jenny Herold.
Lourdes also needs some scoring punch to challenge teams such as Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas for supremacy.
South Dade won’t lack scoring output with a talented team returning that is led by senior forward McKenzie VanHeusen and could make a run in the postseason. Ferguson graduated several starters but returns a strong group of sophomores who should keep it in contention, as well. Palmetto and Coral Reef also figure to be among the contenders.
Miami Springs looks to be Dade’s strongest team in Class 4A. It is led by senior midfielder Sofia De La Puente and junior forward Alyssa Deno.
1. LOURDES: Coach: Ramiro Vengoechea, 2nd year, 21-1-3. Last year: 21-1-3 (regional semifinalist). Top players: M Christine Hoynack, Sr.; D Mariela Norona, Sr.; F Michelle Figarola, Sr.; M Natalie Silberman, So.
2. SOUTH DADE: Coach: Erin Shelow, 4th year, 42-12-6. Last year: 13-6-2 (regional quarterfinalist). Top players: F McKenzie VanHeusen, Sr.; M Bania Duran, Jr.; D Isamar Duran, Sr.; M-F Allyssa Cili, Sr.
3. FERGUSON: Coach: Richard Lopez, 9th year, 92-32-14. Last year: 20-2-1 (regional finalist). Top players: M Natalie Valderruten, Sr.; D-M Nicole Rafols, Jr.; D Mariana Ramirez, Jr.; M Nicole Bovo, So.
4. PALMETTO: Coach: Lyndsay Segarra, 5th year. Last year: 13-3-3. Top players: F-M Ava Gruener, Jr.; D Lauren Palavecino, Jr.; GK Marti Stein, Sr.; F-M Sophia Paz, Sr.
5. CORAL GABLES: Coach: Eddie Aguirre, 4th year at CG, 6th overall, 65-24-5. Last year: 14-3-2 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: D Claire Shillington, Sr.; M Nelly Segarra, Sr.; F Mariana Babboni, Sr.; M Amy Ransom, So.
6. CORAL PARK: Coach: Manny Rodriguez, 30th year. Last year: 8-7-3. Top players: F Maria Vega, Jr.; M Nina Torres, Sr.; D Carolina Dominguez, So.; GK Natalie Diaz, So.
7. HIALEAH: Coach: William Harrington, 5th year. Last year: 10-9-2. Top players: F Allison Lopez, Jr.; D Sarahi Ramirez, Jr.; M Adreina Diaz, Sr.; M Heidy Lucas, Jr.
8. SOUTHWEST: Coach: Leo Madrigal, 4th year at SW, 36th overall. Last year: 9-7-4. Top players: M Karen Fernandez, Jr.; M Ashley Foira, Sr.; D Paola Mejia, So.; M Aileen Garcia, Sr.
9. BRADDOCK: Coach: Jorge Server, 5th year. Last year: 1-13-1. Top players: M-F Amanda Zamora, Sr.; M Diane Tipps, Sr.; M Ada Artiles, Sr.; M Christine Valdes, So.
1. MIAMI SPRINGS: Coach: William Drew, 14th year at MS, 31st overall, 233-57-25. Last year: 22-3-1 (regional semifinalist). Top players: M Sofia De la Puente, Sr.; F Alyssa Deno, Jr.; M Anett Cea, Sr.; D Katherine Inhoof, So.
2. TERRA: Coach: Monica Mejia, 5th year. Last year: 11-6-2 (regional semifinalist). Top players: F Karina Bermudez, So.; M Kaitlyn Ritter, So.; M Alexandra Pepin, Jr.; F Carolina Schooley, So.
3. AMERICAN: Coach: Rosie Lopez, 10th year. Last year: 9-7-1. Top players: F Lenysse Dyer, Sr.; D Pamela Ramirez, Sr.; F-M Evelyn Roque, Fr.; M Yosdaly Gonzalez-Cedres, Jr.
4. GOLEMAN: Coach: Fred Wilde, Jr., 9th year. Last year: 7-8. Top players: GK Michelle Olivia, Jr.; M-D Teshla Garcia, Fr.; F Gabriella Roldes, Jr.; M Katelyn Brito, Fr.
5. MATER ACADEMY: Coach: Luis Sanchez, 11th year at MA, 16th overall, 171-107-32. Last year: 15-6-2. Top players: M-D Saige Griffin, So.; D Kylee Griffin, Fr.; M Alexis Rodriguez, Sr.; GK Julia Sanchez, Jr.
HIALEAH-MIAMI LAKES: Coach: Jennifer Murray, 2nd year, 6-14. Last year: 6-14. Top players: M Aspen Arias, Jr.; D-M Syann Marc, So.; D Ela Hernandez, Sr.; GK Iliana Alvarado, Jr.
1. GULLIVER: Coach: Andrew Vassell, 1st year. Last year: 17-1-1 (regional semifinalist). Top players: D Vanessa Martinez, Sr.; D Amanda Rodriguez, Sr.; F Natalia Verde, Sr.; M Brigitte Karenna Northland, Jr.
2. MAST: Coach: Ossie Morales, 17th year. Last year: 18-3-4 (regional finalist). Top players: F Mariana Speckmaier, Jr.; M Sheridan Plummer, Sr.
3. RANSOM EVERGLADES: Coach: Greg Noblet, 7th year, 67-64-13. Last year: 9-6-4 (regional quarterfinalist). Top players: D Dani Frese, Sr.; M Celine Ferrero, Sr.; F Paulina Johansson, Sr.; M Sofia Petros, Jr.
4. CARROLLTON: Coach: Donald Chin Loy, 2nd year. Last year: 12-6. Top players: GK Carolina Fernandez, Jr.; M Isabella Kang, Jr.; M Sarah Berenguer, Fr.; D Sofia Miguez, Jr.
5. LA SALLE: Coach: Gamy Lozano, 3rd year at LAS, 4th overall. Last year: 9-8-1. Top players: F Nicole Baldassini, Sr.; D Florencia Baldassini, Jr.; D Karina Radice, Sr.; M Karina Tremols, Sr.
6. MONSIGNOR PACE: Coach: Manny Rivero. Last year: 10-11. Top players: GK Grace Li, Fr.; D Liz Alvarez, Sr.; M Aida Rivera, Jr.; D Jenny Darbouze, Sr.
1. PALMER TRINITY: Coach: Philip Gentles, 2nd year, 17-6-1. Last year: 17-6-1 (State semifinalist). Top players: M-F Victoria Rosales, So.; M Hailey Malueg, So.; F Sofia Rivas, So.; D Mikela Garcia, Sr.
2. MIAMI COUNTRY DAY: Coach: Kyllene Carter-Weiss, 8th year at MCD, 14th overall, 152-92-21. Last year: 17-5-3 (regional quarterfinalist). Top players: GK Laurel Ivory, Fr.; D Amanda Martin, Fr.; D Ava Hansen, Fr.; F Laureen Jean-Jacques, 8th.
3. SCHECK HILLEL: Coach: Jessica Palis, 6th year. Last year: 8-8. Top players: F-M Alexandra Wolf, So.; F Sharon Stambouli, Sr.; M Sandra Feld, So.
Andre C. Fernandez