tampabay.com

Once is fine, twice better

It's a rare feat when Palm Harbor University High wins championships in boys and girls soccer in the same year

By BRANDON WRIGHT
Published February 18, 2006


A state championship at any high school is impressive. Two titles are considered an excellent year for an athletic program. But a pair of state championships in the same sport?

It's virtually unprecedented.

Palm Harbor University High became just the sixth school in state history to win championships in boys and girls soccer in the same year when the Hurricanes' boys team defeated Auburndale 3-0 Thursday night at Fort Lauderdale.

"We didn't want to be outdone by the girls," boys coach Mike Mannino joked after the match.

The girls captured the state title by beating Bloomingdale 2-0 on Feb. 9. Palm Harbor also became just the second public school, after Spanish River Boca Raton in 1997, to accomplish the same sport, dual-team feat.

"Just winning two state titles in anything, any year is an amazing feat," girls coach John Planamenta said. "So to have it done in the same sport by the same school is truly an impressive feat. I think it really speaks to the level of talent in the area." He said that in addition to talent, player development in the youth leagues is at the root of Palm Harbor's success.

"These kids coming through now are a product of this local area," Planamenta, who coaches for the Countryside Lightning, said. "They're getting great training at the club level, and the high schools are getting the benefits later on."

The girls team received flowers from the school's administration and appeared on the televised morning announcements Monday after their win. The team also was sized for state champion rings and should receive them by the end of April.

There are no immediate plans for a dual celebration, but Planamenta said an announcement will be made soon, as many of the school's administrators were still in Fort Lauderdale after attending the boys' match. Planamenta did say he expects the school to do "something big" at the team banquet March 5.