Miami-Dade County is responsible for three of the 10 teams competing for a state championship in boys soccer this week. Palmer Trinity (Class 1A), Immaculata-LaSalle (Class 2A) and Felix Varela (Class 5A) high schools will all attempt to bring home FHSAA boys soccer titles in games at Spec Martin Stadium in DeLand.
The games kick off Thursday at 4 p.m., when Palmer will face Shorecrest Preparatory School of St. Petersburg. Palmer is attempting to defend its Class 1A title from last season (the first in school history). Palmer nearly didn’t make it to DeLand. It took an overtime victory over Lakeland Christian to make it out of the state semifinal.
It’s the first appearance in an FHSAA boys soccer championship game for Shorecrest.
Another team making its first appearance in a boys soccer championship — or any state championship — is Immaculata-LaSalle. The Royal Lions defeated Sarasota Cardinal Mooney to earn their spot and face off against Orlando Lake Highland Prep at 7 p.m. Thursday.
On Saturday, Varela will face off against Lake Mary. Varela, which last won a title in 2008 under the leadership of Luchi Gonzalez, is eager to return to the top of the state soccer world. That 2008 squad was named the No. 1 program in the country by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. Since then, Varela only came close in 2011, when the Vipers lost to Weston’s Cypress Bay.
Girls come up short
2019 appears to be a return to form for girls soccer in the county. In 2018, two girls squads qualified for the state final, with Miami County losing to St. Johns County Day and Lourdes defeating Oviedo to claim Dade county’s first girls title since Gulliver Prep in 2011. The two teams that qualified in 2018 nearly matched the total output for the county in all seasons from 2013-2017 (3). No teams will be competing in 2019, however.