Boys soccer | Saint Stephen's Falcons beat Sarasota Christian for seventh district title in eight years

Saint Stephen's rolls to its 7th title in 8 years

jlembo@bradenton.comJanuary 25, 2014 

BRADENTON -- If you're wondering what it feels like to win a boys district soccer championship, consider Jorge Zavala a prime source.

For the fourth time in four seasons at Saint Stephen's, the speedy senior got to join in a group photo accompanied by a championship trophy Friday night.

Yet in the aftermath of a 4-0 win over Sarasota Christian in the Class 1A-District 7 final in which he scored a pair of goals and assisted on another, Zavala considered this latest championship run the sweetest of them all.

"This year's the most special for me," he said, "senior year, leading the team with my other senior guys, the captains I've been playing with for so long. ... This one definitely means the most to me."

Coach Marc Jones made sure the seniors accepted the championship trophy from Saint Stephen's athletic director Carlos Boothby, his tribute to a group that has helped the Falcons to seven titles in the past eight years.

"A lot of these guys have played for Saint Stephen's since they were in seventh grade," said Jones, who recorded his 300th victory earlier this year. "Matthew (Jones) has, and Jeremy (Jackman). ... They were ballboys in the program when they were in kindergarten here at Saint Stephen's."

On Friday night, they helped the top-seeded Falcons (11-1-1) dominate the second-seeded Blazers, outshooting them 24-3. And it was Zavala who broke through during the game's 12th minute, when his goal off an assist from Alex Virgilio gave Saint Stephen's a 1-0 lead.

Zavala struck again three minutes after halftime, outrunning a Blazers defender and beating goalie Joey Shamp for his second scored of the night.

"Usually, (speed) is one of my better assets," said Zavala, whose left knee was wrapped in ice to help soothe an injury he suffered earlier this year. "Honestly, I can't do anything I do on the field without the guys behind me."

Zavala helped out not long after his second goal when he assisted on Jackman's score.

Jonathan Boyd, a freshman, closed the scoring for the Falcons, who host Fort Myers Canterbury at 7 p.m. Thursday in a Class 1A-Region 2 quarterfinal.

"We always try our hardest to make it this far," Zavala said, "and hopefully we make it on to state this year."

Jones said he believes his Falcons can go as far as they want, provided they put in the work.

"I was very proud of our guys, very proud of them," he said. "I think there's room for improvement, to be honest with you. The boys know that we've still got a ways to go before we're actually at our peak, and we need to be at our peak if we want to continually advance. We'll be working hard in practice next week."

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