Girls soccer | Unbeaten Lakewood Ranch headlines district schedule

jdill@bradenton.comJanuary 12, 2014 

MANATEE -- The quest for a girls soccer state championship has begun for area prep programs.

No club has accomplished the feat, but this could be the year for area hopefuls as Lakewood Ranch leads the locals with a dominating season so far.

The Mustangs (18-0-1) are unbeaten and one of four programs that earned the No. 1 seed for the district tournaments, the first step toward a potential state championship.

The other three schools to earn top seeds are Manatee, Cardinal Mooney and Saint Stephen's.

Here's a look at how the districts break down:

Class 5A-District 8

Manatee is the lone local in the field of four. One victory would send the Hurricanes into the regional tournament, but Manatee's eyes are on the district championship. To triumph, Manatee must defeat Largo Pinellas Park in Wednesday's semifinals before facing the winner of Sarasota Riverview-St. Petersburg in Friday's final.

Class 4A-District 11

This is a loaded district, historically, with Venice usually posing as a difficult club to get past. Ranch and Braden River, though, are the top two seeds. Ranch has a first-round bye based off their performance this season. The Pirates host Sarasota in Monday's quarterfinal and most likely will meet the Indians in Wednesday's semifinals.

The winner of that match should find the mighty Mustangs waiting in Friday's championship. If it's Braden River, then expect a tight match between the two East Manatee rivals.

Braden River played Ranch to a 0-0 draw in the Mustangs season opener, while Ranch won the return leg 1-0. That draw is the only blemish for Ranch in 19 matches this season.

Class 4A-District 10

Palmetto, the lone area entrant, fell 1-0 against Clearwater as the No. 5 seed.

Class 3A-District 9

A six-team district tournament that features Bayshore and Southeast. The Seminoles, and star Daryl Bell, have excelled this winter to snag the No. 2 seed behind Tampa Robinson.

The Bruins fell 3-2 to Tampa Middleton on Saturday and bowed out. The Noles and Robinson received byes into Friday's semifinals. Southeast will host Tampa Jefferson on Friday.

Class 2A-District 11

This district, like the 1A-7 tournament, is held at one venue. This year's tournament is hosted by Cardinal Mooney, who is the top seed. The Cougars recently blasted Southeast 8-0 in a final tune-up for the district tournament, which begins Tuesday. The Cougars take on Booker and should find themselves moving into Thursday's final against the winner of Arcadia DeSoto and Sarasota Military Academy.

Class 1A-District 7

The lowest classification district tournament also features the most local teams. The event is held at Saint Stephen's, normally an area power. The Falcons are flying high as the top seed and are in Thursday's semifinal round alongside No. 2-seeded Out-of-Door Academy.

The Thunder face Sarasota Christian, while Saint Stephen's completes Thursday's doubleheader by playing the winner of Tuesday's quarterfinal between North Port Imagine School and Bradenton Christian.

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