Judging by their lofty seedings, three county high school girls soccer teams have an excellent opportunity to extend their seasons in district tournaments next week.
The top two finishers in all districts move on to the regional round in their respective classes. District champions host their region openers while runners-up travel in the first round.
Mosley will take the top seed into the District 2-4A bracket at Tallahassee Lincoln that begins on Monday. Likewise, Arnold is the top seed, based on regular-season district results, in the 2-3A tournament at Choctawhatchee that opens Tuesday.
Resurgent Bay is No. 2 seed in the 2-2A event hosted by Pensacola Catholic, with many matches in that tournament played at other sites.
Mosley is 13-1-2 heading into its match against Bay tonight. Coach Marek Betkowski said the gaudy record has been accomplished with perhaps the youngest varsity squad in the history of the program, but added that factor is somewhat misleading.
“They have much talent,” Betkowski said. “They may not have experience on the high school level, but a majority play soccer all year long at a very high level. I don’t think that’s a problem. I think they’re fine.”
Mosley compiled a 7-0-1 district regular-season record, playing No. 2 seed Lincoln to a narrow victory and a tie. The Dolphins open against Monday’s Chiles-Lake City Columbia winner at 4 p.m. CST Wednesday.
“I think compared to other teams our ball possession and passing is way better,” Betkowski said. “Overall they’ve had a very good season. They’re playing the way I want them to play.”
The Dolphins are bolstered at midfield and up front by junior Kaylin Thomas and sophomore Elizabeth Vickers, but have had a number of underclassmen contribute to augment senior leadership.
Arnold coach William Gardner feels that the Marlins already have faced adversity this season while compiling an 11-9-1 record. At 5-1-0, however, they earned the top seed in 2-3A and meet Rutherford in a semifinal at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“We lost Kirsten (Crowley) and Sarah (Nohmer) so that was 50 goals (last season) that walked out the door,” Gardner said. “We lost so much I don’t exactly know what my expectations were, so in a sense I think it would be fair to say we’ve exceeded them.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries and all kinds of illnesses. I think that the challenge has made us stronger. We lost six games in a row and were weak from players having to be out.”
Gardner said the Marlins’ identity is linked to cohesive play in the defensive end. He credited Danielle Alvey and Brooke Jaworski as effective defenders and said keeper Alexis Tanner has been outstanding. Kelli Crowley, Jaclynn Lehtio and Amanda Laberdesque have keyed the offense.
“If we can keep the score low, hopefully we can sneak in one or two,” Gardner said.
The Marlins prime for next week with matches against strong clubs in Mosley, Niceville and Gulf Breeze to end their regular season.
William Carter is a first-year coach at Bay, but has experience on the collegiate and club level in addition to high school soccer. The Tornadoes are 15-2-1 entering the 2-2A bracket, but top-seeded Pensacola Catholic has supplied one of the losses and the tie.
Bay has a bye into the semifinals Tuesday evening against the Bozeman-South Walton survivor, those schools meeting Monday in South Walton. The Tornadoes will host the winner 5 p.m. at Tommy Oliver Stadium.
“I think we have a good chance to get to the finals and a 50-50 chance of winning if we do,” Carter said. “They’ve improved since the season began. They work for each other. They play hard for each other, not as individuals.”
A trio of seniors has helped spark Bay. Jessica Harris and Sarah Judah have been instrumental at midfield and in generating offense and keeper Genevieve Smith has been solid in the net.
Bay plays Mosley 5 p.m. today at Bozeman in a mid-January match that wasn’t a scheduling quirk.
“We specifically added them late in the season,” Carter said. “They are a very strong opponent that hopefully will help get us ready for next week.”
Port St. Joe, 9-3-1, is the third seed in the 1-1A tournament it will host. Franklin County comes in at No. 1, that tourney beginning on Tuesday.
District 2-4A at Lincoln (all times CST) — Monday: Chiles vs. Columbia 6 p.m. Wednesday: Mosley vs. Chiles-Columbia winner 4 p.m., Lincoln vs. Leon 6 p.m. Friday: Championship 6 p.m.
District 2-3A at Choctawhatchee — Tuesday: Milton vs. Choctawhatchee 5 p.m., Arnold vs. Rutherford 7 p.m. Friday: Championship 7 p.m.
District 2-2A at Pensacola Catholic — Monday: South Walton 3, Bozeman 2 (2OT);, Marianna vs. Walton 7 p.m., both games at South Walton. Tuesday: Bay vs. South Walton; Marianna-Walton winner at Pensacola Catholic 5 p.m. Friday: Championship 7 p.m. at Pensacola Catholic.
District 1-1A at Port St. Joe — Franklin County vs. Baker 4 p.m., Port St. Joe vs. Rocky Bayou 6 p.m. Friday: Championship 6 p.m.