Boys soccer: Class 3A-9 semifinals

By Mike Camunas
Published January 24, 2008

CLEARWATER - Clearwater Central Catholic coach Jim Harte feels his team has heart.

Despite losing 5-0 to Berkeley Prep in its Class 3A, District 9 semifinal Wednesday night, and despite having one of the worst seasons for the generally dominant CCC team, the longtime Marauders coach won't write off this season in the record books.

"No, not at all (do I want to forget this season)," said Harte, who wrapped up his 21st season with CCC on Wednesday. "These guys knew they had a tremendous challenge this season and they rose to the occasion. All season long they played well."

CCC (3-18-2, 0-4-1) is typically a team that goes deep in the playoffs and played in the state title game last season. The Marauders' best chance at a goal came early in the second half, when on a free kick, goalkeeper Matt Thomas boomed one toward the Bucs (9-7-6, 4-0-1) goal.

Senior Jeff Ijjas got a head on it, popping it past out-of-place Berkeley Prep goalkeeper Greg Michaelos. Bucs defenseman Steven Biddinger cleared it at the last second, keeping CCC off the board.

"Our team didn't quit playing throughout the game," Harte said. "We had a chance there at the beginning. We had momentum on our side, but obviously they were better tonight."

Though the 2007-08 season for the Marauders may not look good on paper, that won't stop Harte from bragging about his team.

"I'm very proud of these guys," Harte said while hugging his grandkids. "Did you see them walk off the field together, in two lines, right to the very end? You lose five nothing and they still stick together. You have to be thrilled with that."