High School Sports

Forced to flee their countries after Irma, players now call South Florida home

Coral Springs senior Chamoya Buchanan, who moved to Margate after Hurricane Irma tore through her family home in the U.S. Virgin Islands in September, made the Coral Springs soccer team. Above, damaged power lines are seen after the passage of Hurricane Irma in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, on Sept. 10.
Coral Springs senior Chamoya Buchanan, who moved to Margate after Hurricane Irma tore through her family home in the U.S. Virgin Islands in September, made the Coral Springs soccer team. Above, damaged power lines are seen after the passage of Hurricane Irma in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, on Sept. 10. AP

Coral Springs senior Chamoya Buchanan’s first try-out shot earlier this fall clanged off the left goalpost, and her next boot collided with the crossbar.

After those two near misses with her left foot, Buchanan — new to the school and new to this country, too — switched to her (natural) right foot and unleashed a cannon shot that beat the goalie toward a top corner, just inside the right post.

“That shot,” Coral Springs girls’ soccer coach Katelynn Schaffer said, “was one of best I’ve ever seen a high school kid take.”

Buchanan, who moved to Margate after Hurricane Irma tore through her family home in the U.S. Virgin Islands in September, made the Coral Springs team after that massive kick, and she’s now a starting midfielder, playing on the right wing.

Meanwhile, at Hallandale High, there’s another talented soccer player who has sought refuge in Broward County after her tropical island was also devastated by Irma.

Aichelle Peters, a sophomore central midfielder from St. Maarten, is already one of Hallandale’s two best players, and she has two goals and three assists in her first four games.

“I knew she was very good from her first touch,” Hallandale coach Jawara Senghor said. “She’s naturally talented.”

Peters has made the most of a tough situation. She and her family suffered through major damage to their apartment. Ankle-deep water flooded their home despite the best efforts of Peters’ mom, who jammed a mattress and a table up against their sliding-glass door.

Hurricane Irma roared into the Caribbean with record force early Wednesday, its 185-mph (297-kph) winds shaking homes and flooding buildings on a chain of small islands along a path toward Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and likel

“The sliding door was shaking like it was going to crack,” Peters said. “It didn’t crack, but water came in under the doors.”

On Sept. 28, Peters, her four siblings and their mother arrived in Hallandale, where they are living with family members. There are 15 people living in a four-bedroom home, but Peters, who sleeps on a mattress in the living room, never complains.

“Back home, we would have ‘movie night,’ and we would all camp out in the living room. To me, it’s comfortable,” Peters said.

Buchanan also has a great attitude in the face of adversity.

On the night Irma hit her neighborhood, she looked out and saw roofs torn off. Every lamp-pole was down, she said, trees were completely stripped, the power was out for more than a week, and her street “flooded like a stream.”

The Dutch ministry of defense released aerial footage on September 7 showing Hurricane Irma’s path of destruction across the Dutch Caribbean island enclave of Saint Maarten. According to reports, at least 11 people had been confirmed dead by the m

She’s safe now, and even though she doesn’t know Peters, they have much in common beyond Irma:

▪  Both are trying to help rebuild losing programs. Coral Springs went 7-11-1 last season and is now 1-0-2. Hallandale finished 2-14-2 last season and is now 1-2-1.

▪  Both coaches are new. This is the first high school varsity head-coaching job for Schaffer, 25, and Senghor, 36.

▪  Both Buchanan and Peters have experience playing for national teams. Buchanan played for the Virgin Islands U-20 team and was about to debut for the senior national team when Irma hit. Peters played for the Trinidad and Tobago national team because of her maternal ancestry from that country.

One difference is that Buchanan has yet to score this season, although Schaffer has confidence in her skills.

“She’s pretty fast,” Schaffer said. “She can keep the ball in tight areas, and we’re trying to teach our other girls to be aggressive like her. She doesn’t wait for the ball to come to her.”

Soccer season preview


▪ Jan. 16-18: GMAC championship

▪ Jan. 22-27: Districts

▪ Feb. 6: Regional quarterfinals

▪ Feb. 9: Regional semifinals

▪ Feb. 13: Regional finals

▪ Feb. 16: State semifinals

▪ Feb. 21, 23: State finals at Spec Martin Memorial Stadium in DeLand


Class 5A: Oviedo; 4A: St. Thomas Aquinas; 3A: Merritt Island; 2A: West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy; 1A: Orange Park St. Johns Country Day.


Braddock - Coach: Arcesio Jaramillo; Last season: NA; Top players: M Jillian Falcon (sr.); F Nicole Caldera (sr.); D Miranda Morgan (jr.); Noteworthy: Falcon is the team’s leading scorer.

Carrollton - Coach: Eric Vasquez; Last season:15-4-2; Top players: F Alexis Diaz Silvera (jr.); F Marian Alcantara (jr.); M Sydney Sarick (sr.); Noteworthy: Regional finalists return senior goalie Vivian Guerra, who had nine shutouts. Silvera had 12 goals and made first-team all-county.

Coral Gables - Coach: Eddie Aguirre; Last season: 14-7-4; Top players; G Jimena Sanchez (sr.); D Ceci Rodriguez (jr.); M Hannah Evans (sr.); Noteworthy: Twelve seniors return from a team that was a regional semifinalist. Evans scored 14 goals last season.

Coral Park - Coach: Phillip Glatzer; Last season: 4-9; Top players: D Megan Sotodelvalle (sr.); M Madeline Perez (jr.); M Hucely Hernandez (jr.); Noteworthy: Team is not without speed, skill and experience, but they lack depth.

Coral Reef - Coach: Deano Nunez; Last season: 19-2-0; Top players: M Paige Nunez (sr.); F Rayquel Berry (sr.); D Tatiana Rodriguez (sr.); Noteworthy: Reef returns 16 players from regional quarterfinal team. This is an experienced team – nine seniors.

Dr. Krop - Coach: Mike Guarin; Last season: regional quarterfinals; Top players: M Kirra Magana (so.); M Tiffany Schram (sr.); Noteworthy: Guarin, in his first season as coach, inherits a young team with the exception of Schram, who had 27 goals last season.

Florida Christian - Coach: Fernando Hohl; Last season: 4-5-1; Top players: F Megan Rodriguez (jr.); G Nadia Esparragoza (sr.); M Rachel Burke (8th); Noteworthy: Rodriguez scored 22 goals last season on a very young team.

La Salle - Coach: Anthony Vuono; Last season: 11-5-3; Top players: D Olivia Flood (sr.); D Sofia Miyares (sr.); F Stephanie Cuan (jr.); Noteworthy: Team is known for its defense, but Cuan and Anabel Toledo each had 12 goals last season for regional quarterfinalists.

Lourdes - Coach: Ramiro Vengoechea; Last season: 22-3-1; Top players: M Niki Molina (sr.); D Sofia Hillman (sr.); M Taylor Cosio (sr.); Noteworthy: Regional champs return 20 players from last season, including senior goalie Amanda Puig, who had 20 shutouts.

Mater Academy - Coach: Ken Schorr; Last season: 15-5-2; Top players: M Amanda Diaz (jr.); D Karla Vargas (jr.); G Madison Delucca (so.); Noteworthy: Diaz had 24 goals and 14 assists last season. Delucca had eight shutouts.

Miami Country Day - Coach: Kyllene Carter; Last season: 16-6; Top players: F Amanda Martin (sr.); D Danielle Geathers (sr.); M Becky Bibas (so.); Noteworthy: Martin scored 28 goals last season. Senior Ava Hansen scored 19 before a knee injury shelved her.

Miami Springs - Coach: William Drew; Last season: 22-3-1; Top players: F Gabrielle Cimino (so.); M Jasmine Romay (so.); D Elizabeth Vizcanio (so.); Noteworthy: Team made regional semifinals last season but will now start four freshmen and at least three sophomores.

Palmer Trinity - Coach: Johann Odermatt; Last season: 13-4; Top players: Daniela Gomez (so.); M Georgia Maleup (fr.); F Carmen Gonzalez Del Valle (so.); Noteworthy: Palmer’s top four players are freshmen or sophomores, and the coach is new.

Palmetto - Coach: Sam Steele; Last season: 14-6; Top players: M Alexandra Abaroa (so.); M Dominique Mosley (jr.); M Maria Butler (jr.); Noteworthy: Four of the Panthers’ top six players are midfielders and five of six are underclassmen.

Ransom Everglades - Coach: Greg Noblet; Last season: 14-5-2; Top players: F Tiffany McBrayer (sr.); M Hunter Matson (sr.); M Catherine Kolski (sr.); Noteworthy: Ransom, which is seeking its fourth straight district title, lacks depth and a proven goal-scorer but has balance.

South Dade - Coach: Erin Shelow; Last season: 8-9; Top players: F Amber Tam (jr.); F Kayla Jackson (jr.); D Kiara Steele (jr.); Noteworthy: Senior goalie Adrianna Arroyo had seven shutouts last season. Jackson scored 17 goals, and Tam had 13.

St. Brendan - Coach: Adalberto Jordan; Last season: 13-9; Top players: M Adriana Diaz (sr.); D Isabella Gonzalez (jr.); F Jessica Botero (jr.); Noteworthy: The team is speedy but young with 14 freshmen or sophomores. Diaz had 18 goals and 21 assists last season, making first-team all-county.

Westminster Christian - Coach: Jason Kirk; Last season: 12-9; Top players: D Maite Gutierrez (sr.); F Sophia Vilar (so.); G Priscilla Hernandez (sr.); Noteworthy: Team returns 19 of 21 players from last season’s regional-semifinal team. That list includes eight key seniors.


American Heritage - Coach: Cindy Marcial; Last season: 22-1; Top players: D Jeanel Leon (sr.); M Tori Alfero (sr.); M Chloe Laureano (jr.); Noteworthy: After reaching state semifinals, team could start three eighth-graders. Eight seniors are gone from last season.

Archbishop McCarthy - Coach: Mike Sica; Last season: 17-3-6; Top players: M Emily Welch (sr.); F Devin Encalada (jr.); M Sofia Mallardi (jr.); Noteworthy: Deep team with seven promising freshmen and a top sophomore in Cassie Lawson (seven goals).

Coral Springs - Coach: Katelynn Schaffer; Last season: 7-11-1; Top players: M Christine Keller (sr.); D Victoria Dezayas (jr.); D McKenzie Brown (sr.); Noteworthy: Schaffer, a first-year head coach, has six returning players from last season.

Cypress Bay - Coach: Kate Dwyer; Last season: 17-3-1; Top players: D Maya Gordon (jr.); D Alexi Goffi (so.); M Mariana Mazzocca (jr.); Noteworthy: After reaching the regional finals last season, team will rebuild around its top defense.

David Posnack - Coach: Ralph Abreu; Last season: 1-10-2; Top players: M Rachel Schneider (jr.); D Nikki Tashof (sr.); F Ariana Feldman (fr.); Noteworthy: Three of the top five players are freshmen, including goalie Jordan Mark. There are just two seniors on the roster.

Douglas - Coach: Laura Rountree; Last season: 13-5-2; Top players: F Jamie Morris (jr.); F Marley Hall (sr.); M Emily Morris (sr.); Noteworthy: Seniors Madison Ciccone and Hannah Donato help to lock down the defense.

Hallandale - Coach: Jawara Senghor; Last season: 2-14-2; Top players: D Lianna Joseph (sr.); M Aichelle Peters (so.); D Paola Cordero (jr.); Noteworthy: Senghor is in his first season as Hallandale’s coach.

North Broward Prep - Coach: Tricia Armhein; Last season: 14-7; Top players: M Morgan Newman (jr.); D Ricki Kalayci (sr.); M Jenna Burns (jr.); Noteworthy: Regional quarterfinalists are led by Newman, who had 13 goals and 10 assists. Burns returns from injury.

Pine Crest - Coach: Pepi Vallejo; Last season: 13-3; Top players: M Eva Spyredes (sr.); G Skylar Pollock (sr.); M Ana Simon (sr.); Noteworthy: There are 11 seniors on this team, including Spyredes (15 goals last season). Junior Natalie Klar had 16 goals.

Somerset Academy - Coach: Marco DiGiacomo; Last season: 6-12-1; Top players: F Fayth Frederic (so.); M Jaileen DeFreitas (8th); D Bianca Hidalgo (jr.); Noteworthy: Frederic scored 20 goals last season, and the team captain is senior defender Oluwatoyin Lasisi.

South Broward - Coach: Boomer Bray; Last season: 2-10; Top players: M Barbara Fernandez (jr.); M Florencia Molina (sr.); D Kassandra Hernandez (so.); Noteworthy: Bray coached boys’ soccer the past 11 years, at Cypress Bay and Everglades.

South Florida HEAT - Coach: Bob Bemis; Last season: 15-6-3; Top players: F Raenin Dockery (sr.); M Abigail Sorda (sr.); D Sarah Morris (sr.); Noteworthy: The team won its district last season.

St. Thomas Aquinas - Coach: Carlos Giron; Last season: 22-1-2; Top players: F Chloe O’Neill (sr.); F Morgan Armstrong (sr.); G Kailey Homoky (sr.); Noteworthy: Team’s top players are seniors, including O’Neill, who had 34 goals and 25 assists last season.

Taravella - Coach: Kathy Fitzgerald; Last season: 8-7-1; Top players: D Brooke Boutchie (sr.); F Natalia Hewitt (so.); F Alicia Victoria (so.); Noteworthy: Of the top six players, four are sophomores and one is a freshman. Hewitt led the way with 14 goals last season.

Westminster Academy - Coach: Dale Renwick; Last season: 12-2-1; Top players: M Camryn Pagliaro (sr.); D Kathryn Ford (sr.); M Olivia Carvalho (so.); Noteworthy: Pagliaro led the team last season with 10 goals and eight assists.