Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

An Emotional Showdown; Bishop Kenny, Nease Girls Will Put Friendships Aside Tonight in Regional Game

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

An Emotional Showdown; Bishop Kenny, Nease Girls Will Put Friendships Aside Tonight in Regional Game

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID JOHNSON, The Times-Union

Bishop Kenny seniors Ashlyn McGregor and Brittany Comer joined Nease senior Andrea Bodniowycz in enjoying the Super Bowl festivities downtown on Saturday night.

Today, they and their teammates will have to put any cross-team friendships aside as they play their own big game. The Nease girls soccer team, ranked No. 1 in Class 4A all season, plays host to No. 2 Bishop Kenny in a regional semifinal at 7 p.m.

In a game that could decide the 4A state champion -- if the Florida Sports Writers Association poll proves correct -- the players are trying to look past the hype of the rankings while also putting aside their friendships.

"On a friendship point of view, we're in a lose-lose situation because no one wants to end your best friends' season and career," said McGregor, a senior co-captain and the Times-Union 2004 Player of the Year.

But players from both sides know they won't hold anything back while the ball is in play. After the game, emotions will likely burst. "It's not fun to think that your friends are going to be upset or you're going to be upset," said Bodniowycz, a senior co-captain. "Someone's season will be over. The stakes are really high."

Bodniowycz, McGregor and Comer have played together in club soccer since fifth grade. Their friendship is just one of several between the two teams. The familiarity between the girls and a regular-season meeting between the schools, which Nease won 2-0, leave few secrets.

Nease (22-2-3) spreads the ball around in a possession-style attack. Kenny (15-3-2) typically tries to get the ball to its go-to scorers in McGregor and junior Colleen Minta.

"We've always had it come from a lot of different people," said Nease senior defensive midfielder Nicole Eckensberger. "We never know who's going to be the next scorer."

It's a matchup that's worthy of a state final-four game in Fort Lauderdale next week, but the Florida High School Athletic Association brackets teams geographically at the regional level. Ironically, the winner could have to face Ridgeview, another area team that's ranked No. 3 in the state.

The players are taking the significance of such a tough early postseason game in stride. …

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