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School gets kick out of team

St. Petersburg High's student body, staff and faculty all are excited about the girls soccer team's playoff success.

Published February 8, 2006

When the St. Petersburg High School girls varsity soccer team takes the field Thursday in a state semifinal match against Lake Mary High School, they'll have a mass of supporters in the stands.

Along with throngs of parents and family members who plan to make the trip to Fort Lauderdale, the school has chartered two buses to accommodate the large number of students who want to support the team.

"Dr. Julie Janssen has been so supportive in every way. She's been phenomenal these past couple of weeks, helping us out with everything," said senior Bryan Sunnucks, 18, of the school's principal. "She's gone out of her way to do all this. She's made all the phones calls, ordered the buses, got the (permission slip) forms ready. She's been so fabulous to everyone around here about letting us go,"

Sunnucks, a huge soccer fan, said the school has rallied behind the Green Devils. "It's the first time a soccer team (here) has been to state, so we all wanted to go over there and show our support because we really believe we can bring (the championship) home," he said.

Assistant principal and athletic director Barry Brown said the staff and faculty are eager to see the team play for a shot at the state championship. "They've always done a good job, and now we get an opportunity to show our stuff at the state level. Their success has gotten the whole school in an uproar. The entire student body is excited and wishing our girls soccer team good luck," Brown said.

The team advanced to the Class 6A semifinals after outside left midfielder Andrea Rodrigues, 16, scored the lone goal in Saturday's 1-0 win over Melbourne. Rodrigues, a sophomore, said that after the initial celebration, the team's thoughts turned to preparing for Thursday's game. They've also continued practicing and plan to have bagels on game day, a team superstition that has worked thus far. The mood is electric, Rodrigues said, but also focused.

"We've got to get down to business and shake these nerves off and focus on the game. We have to make sure we get our plays down pat and keep our head in the game and not just focus on the fact that it's the first time we've been to states," Rodrigues said.

Coach Rui Farias said that despite losing 10 seniors (seven of whom were starters) last year, his young team has shown great dedication to one another and the team as a whole. "They work really hard on the field and they work really hard for each other. We've been a really strong defensive team, but I think more important, they have a great work ethic," he said.

The Green Devils will get to show off that work ethic when the game begins at noon Thursday at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. About 100 students and faculty will leave St. Petersburg High early Thursday morning so they can be in the stands by noon to cheer on the team.

A Green Devils victory will mean a shot at the state championship, which is scheduled for Saturday night, also in Fort Lauderdale.

[Last modified February 8, 2006, 01:15:22]

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