Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stanton Girls on Brink of History; Talented Freshmen, Senior Leaders Aim for 3A State Soccer Title

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stanton Girls on Brink of History; Talented Freshmen, Senior Leaders Aim for 3A State Soccer Title

Article excerpt

Byline: Clayton Freeman

Through more than two decades at Stanton College Preparatory School, as a student, teacher and coach, Brian Heggood has kept waiting for one milestone.

The Stanton girls soccer coach still hasn't seen an FHSAA championship in a team sport go into the school's trophy cabinet.

That could all change Friday.

The freshman-laden Stanton squad stands one step from history when they meet Merritt Island in Friday's 3A championship at Spec Martin Stadium in DeLand.

They're the first Gateway Conference team to qualify for a state final since 1998, when Fletcher lost the title game to St. Thomas Aquinas.

But when ninth-graders make up a majority of the starting lineup on a team in its first-ever championship game, there's the inevitable question: How did they do it?

It's been one part freshman talent, maturing faster than even their coach could have expected.

"Back in October, I could tell they were talented, but you think about how they're going to adjust to the speed of the high school game," Heggood said.

And one part senior leadership.

Heggood said that senior midfielders Christina Rushing and Alyssa Mahar have taken the lead in helping the freshmen become comfortable with the group, all the way to off-field activities like organizing carpools and pregame dinners.

"I can't say enough about the captains," Heggood said. "They've been everything I could have hoped for."

And when the veterans saw what the newcomers could do - like former free kick specialist Mahar observing the dead-ball talents of freshman Camille Prosswimmer - they've been quick to let their younger teammates step into bigger roles.

"She was the one who recognized how good Camille was at that," Heggood said.

That decision has been richly rewarded throughout the playoffs, with Prosswimmer scoring in the regional final from a free kick and setting up several more goals throughout the postseason off corners. …

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