Seabreeze girls open state soccer playoffs at home; Matanzas boys have a three-hour road trip

The Sandcrabs will host Wesley Chapel, the Pirates will visit River Ridge in regional quarterfinals.

Seabreeze captain Kylie Watson talks to her teammates during halftime at the Five Star Conference soccer tournament on Jan. 13. File photo by Michele Meyers
Seabreeze captain Kylie Watson talks to her teammates during halftime at the Five Star Conference soccer tournament on Jan. 13. File photo by Michele Meyers
Photo by michele meyers.
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The Seabreeze girls and Matanzas boys soccer teams have spent all season preparing for their Feb. 13 regional quarterfinal games.

The Sandcrabs, who have played some of the top teams in North and Central Florida, are battle tested. The Pirates, who will have a three-hour road trip to New Port Richey River Ridge, traveled two and a half hours to Lake Wales about three weeks ago.

“TraveIing to play a tough team and winning (2-0) gave them confidence,” Matanzas coach Beto Aguilar said. “I was telling the boys, we’re going to have to handle our business regardless if we're home or away. There is a little bit of excitement with traveling. Hopefully, we’ll get the results.”

Seabreeze, the third seed in the Region 2-5A girls playoffs, hosts No. 6 Wesley Chapel at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, at the Ormond Beach Sports Complex. Wesley Chapel (11-9) will be making a long road trip of its own as it tries to upset the Sandcrabs (10-6-1).

Seabreeze lost to Cypress Creek 3-2 in double overtime in the regional final last year. This year, the Sandcrabs are hitting their stride, ending the regular season with six straight victories after starting off with a killer schedule.

“I built a really tough early schedule — Ponte Vedra, Creekside, Bartram Trail, Montverde,” Seabreeze coach Eli Freidus said.

All four of those teams are ranked among Florida’s overall top 10. Playing against the top teams has forced the Sandcrabs to adapt to a faster pace. As a result of the tough competition, their record is not as impressive as the other top teams in he region — No. 1 seed Cypress Creek (15-1-2), No. 2 Aburndale (12-2-3) and No. 4 Horizon (12-3-1).

“We may not be the favorites, but I don’t think any team can overlook us,” Freidus said.

Seabreeze lost leading goal scorer Brianna Chesley, who is now with Baylor, and four-year starting goalkeeper Avery Dellinger from last year’s squad. Sophomore Olivia Chase has become the leading scoring threat with 17 goals. Speedy Annabel Thistle has nine goals.

But the key to Seabreeze’s attack, Freidus said, is center midfielder Kylie Watson.

“Kylie may not get the direct assist, but if you look two or three passes back, she’s the one who started the attack,” Freidus said. “She the motor in our offense. She’s just all over the field for us. She goes goal to goal.”

Matanzas (11-4-2) is seeded sixth in the Region 2-5A boys playoffs and will visit No. 3 River Ridge (15-3-1) at 7 p.m. Feb. 13. Like the Seabreeze girls, the Matanzas boys team has played well down the stretch, winning its last five games and going unbeaten in its last six. The Pirates have scored 25 goals and given up just two in those six games.

“We made some changes in the back line, which helped solidify the structure and our composure with the ball,” Aguilar said. “Once we made the back-line changes, everyone else fell into a good groove.”

Back-line play will be important. River Ridge has allowed more than one goal just twice all season and has given up a total of just nine goals in 19 games. So, the Pirates, who are led offensively by Sergio Posada (12 goals), Landon Grover (11 goals, 6 assists) and Diego Bernardi (nine goals), will have to make the most of their scoring opportunities.


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