Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

5 to Watch; Boys Soccer

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

5 to Watch; Boys Soccer

Article excerpt

Byline: Clayton Freeman

TEAMS

Bishop Kenny: Possibly the best midfield in Northeast Florida. Coming off a trip to the Class 2A semifinals, the Crusaders retain the central triangle of high-scoring junior playmaker Luka Gjuraj, ball-winner Charlie Wilkinson and all-around ace John Darling. Mix that with the scoring of Mason Martin, who tallied 39 goals last year from the center forward post, and Bishop Kenny has a shot to go even deeper than last year.

Fleming Island: Hopes are high for the Golden Eagles, who went through the regular season unbeaten. Fourth-year starter Alex Cruz, with dribbling confidence and a surprising number of goals from the wing, brings leadership and experience from the state runner-up team in 2014. He should mix nicely with senior Mark Suhrer in attack. Andrew LaBelle shifts into a more defensive role to assist a strong but young back line.

Fletcher: Watch out. Korin Krimmer scored 36 goals last season as a junior and is a challenging matchup for any defender. And the Senators aren't a one-man band. With Bryce Deighan, Jordan Mackey and Patrick Wendell all lining up behind, Fletcher has the midfield support to get Krimmer the ball around the box. Returners Brayden James and Patrick Cahill highlight a defense that should be tighter than last year.

Mandarin: Defending regional champions in 1-5A, the Mustangs have pieces in place for a deep postseason run. Ammar Bektic provides the central heartbeat of the team - he can pass from midfield, has a devastating long-distance shot and ranks among Northeast Florida's most valuable players. He's got solid support from two third-year starters in Carson Sapp, the anchor of the defensive line, and Michael Mason, with the versatility to play positions all over the field.

Ponte Vedra: After last year's 25-0-0 state championship season, among the most dominant in state history, there's a lot of turnover in the Sharks' ranks, but also a winning tradition in place. …

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