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Flames have national aspirations

The under-15 team enters the Southern Regionals having played high-level competition.

By JEREMY RASMUSSEN

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 22, 2001


Now that the Brandon Flames have tasted the highest level of competition, they want more.

The under-15 boys team won its fourth state title in five years with a 1-0 victory over West Kendall Optimist in the Florida Youth Soccer Association State Cup, earning a trip to this week's USYSA Southern Regionals.

The only reason the Flames didn't win the Florida Youth Soccer Association State Cup last year was because they were going for a world championship.

As an under-14 squad, they traveled to Philadelphia and won the East Regional of the Nike Premier Cup, enabling them to advance to the national final.

There, they lost 3-2 to the Chicago Sockers. But they still earned a trip to the world championships in The Netherlands.

"Being able to win at the regional level in last year's Nike Cup, well, that type of play really helped push a lot of players to the next level," Flames coach Steve Sedlak said.

"They're well-seasoned now. I think they're really ready (for the Southern Regionals)."

Some of the players on the "next level" include goalie Chris Sedlak, who was a freshman starter for Bloomingdale this past season. Fullback Jack Vine and midfielder Garth Jukem played on Jesuit's national championship squad this past season.

Leading scorer Mike DeAngelis of Flagler Palm Coast and midfielder Toyin Phillips of King are scoring threats up front.

Sedlak said he and the rest of the coaching staff have not been afraid to tinker with success. The Flames feature six different players from last year's Nike Cup unit, and only two remain from the team's original lineup as an under-9 squad.

"It usually takes us the first part of the season to jell, but then we really get going," Sedlak said.

In this year's State Cup playoffs, the Flames outscored their opponents by a combined 17-1.

"I attribute (our success) to travel," Sedlak said. "We make it a point to travel outside our state. There's a lot to be said about being able to handle the regimen of travel. For a lot of teams, (regionals) is their first out-of-state trip."

Sedlak said he anticipates the Flames having a "good shot" to advance to the national tournament if they can get past the grueling group play.

"This year, nationals are in Indiana, and we are focused on that," he said. "A lot of teams would have been satisfied winning the regionals. But the Nike Cup has given us a taste for more. Our sights are on that final goal."

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