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Soccer extra

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 23, 2003

What Cold?

Plant boys coach Kelvin Jones has been on a campaign to sell out Dads Stadium for the boys and girls games against Sickles on Friday night.

With No. 1 seeds for the district tournament on the line in both, these are two of the most important games of the season, and Jones wants to create a homefield advantage. Besides plastering posters all over school, part of Jones' plan is to draw fans by having cheerleaders perform. "I'm telling the kids not just to invite their parents, but go find someone else to show up," Jones said. "I want to fill the whole covered side of the stadium. It may be cold, but this is going to be worth it to come sit out here and watch these games."

Youth Movement

Glance at Bloomingdale's girls roster and what sticks out is that the Bulls have one senior. After Ashley Quaid and seven juniors it's all underclassmen, including seven freshmen.

That doesn't mean the Bulls are inexperienced. Quaid and six of those juniors are holdovers from the 2001 team that became the first from Hillsborough County to win a state title. Though the record (8-3-3) is unlike typical Bloomingdale teams, coach Sue Peet said the mix will make her program stronger the next couple years.

"It feels like I'm back to teaching rather than coaching," Peet said. "The upperclassmen have been very good at taking on leadership responsibilities. There will be times when I tell them to take a session and they'll grab some of the younger players and run that session with them. It's just the way it worked out this year."

If there's any inexperience, it was hard to spot Tuesday as Bloomingdale blew open a 1-1 halftime tie against Wharton with four goals in the final 40 minutes.

Fittingly, Quaid, junior Emily Mills and sophomore Rachel Garbaj each scored once and freshman Lia Hughes added two goals.

Playing Catch-Up

The Wharton boys are generally considered one of the top teams in the county. It's just hard to tell that from their record.

The Wildcats (4-3-1) were forced to reschedule some early-season games due to bad weather and the football team's run to the state final (which took away the soccer team's use of the football field). That means, while Bloomingdale, Gaither and the rest of the top teams in the county are playing their 13th, 14th and 15th games, Wharton will play No. 10 tonight against Hillsborough.

The result of the rescheduling is that the Wildcats play 11 games in 24 days. The string began the first day back from winter break. Because of their busy schedule, the Wildcats are suffering from a lack of cohesion and little downtime to regroup after draining games, such as the loss against Bloomingdale on Tuesday.

"We can't get our rhythm because we don't really have any practice time," Wildcats coach Mike Rowan said. "It's just game after game after game. It's tough."

The Top Ten

The top reasons to go see Sickles boys and girls play at Plant Friday night at 6:30.

10. Good warmup for yelling Sunday.

9. Two great soccer games between four teams that don't really care for each other for $4.

8. The combined body heat of 1,000 healthy people is 98,600 degrees. You'll be warm.

7. Rumors the game will be called the Super Bowl of Soccer. Rumors that tickets will cost $350 are false.

6. Your chance to be a part of the largest soccer crowd other than the state tournament.

5. Eagles fans won't throw things at you.

4. Cheerleaders! At soccer!

3. Where else can you pay to see two identically dressed, grown men in knee-high socks wave neon flags and not get laughed at?

2. Report cards come out Tuesday. It's too late to study now.

1. Hooliganism in South Tampa! Think of the possibilities.

-- Compiled by Mike Readling.

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