The number one ranked boys varsity soccer team in the entire country, is Montverde Academy (18-0). But not far down the list of the greatest teams in this nation, is Steinbrenner.
This segment has no choice but to be focused on the Warriors (14-1-1) men’s soccer program. I mean, why not. This squad of talented athletes has run a marathon, only this marathon has a purpose: for the Warriors to prove they weren’t just the 2012-2013 miracle team of Lutz. This year, with 14 seniors exiting, leaving only few players to have experience for next year, Steinbrenner needs a big finish for the 2013 season. After claiming the number three rank in Florida and the number 14 rank in the country as of the latest ranking from MaxPreps.com, in addition to claiming the Berkeley Invitational tournament title, the Warriors have yet another chance to make a state title run.
The Warriors during the course of their regular season to date have shot the ball 214 times scoring 58 of those opportunities averaging approximately four goals per game. Quite impressive, but perhaps even more admirable is the silent but deadly defense. With the combination of senior goal keeper Christian Knight and the deadly defensive formations the Warriors put in front of their opponents (comprised of four more seniors, Brett Wilkosz, Zach Yarish, Josh Rodriguez and Noah Keene), it seems like a giant 10 ft brick wall is standing in front of the opposition, leaving little if any room for anything to slip through the cracks. Knight has saved 46 shots from going in, and has only let in nine goals total, a number enviable by almost everyone.
Most people say the best offense is a good defense. In the Warriors case, the best offense is the best offense, with the dynamic duo of senior captain, Blake Wilson and sophomore Michael Connell. Wilson has scored 14 times from his central midfield position, contributing almost a fourth of the Warriors total points. Connell plays on the outside of the midfield, and has 15 assists, which is a more impressive one third of all assists on the team, making him one the most valuable and deadly players in the county when given the ball. So the question looms for this young aspiring sophomore, when does he follow his dad and go pro, of course after leading the offense to a couple of key victories in the next two years.
Now despite having a tremendous lineup combining speed, power, strategy, and heart, the task at hand still remains to be when does this team bring home a well deserved state championship. Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. or as the whole world knows him, Muhammad Ali once said, “Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them—a desire, a dream, a vision.”
The Warriors, despite being knocked down after last year’s unexpected and heartbreaking loss to Gulf Coast in the state finals, have done something every athlete has done before. Scratch that, every human. Fallen down. Try to correct me if you want but the truth of the matter is, no one is perfect and everyone either makes a mistake or gets pushed down at some point. But to get back up, to win, to achieve success; you need the heart, drive, and devotion to obtain that goal. Steinbrenner lost to Gulf Coast last year 2-0, a game that easily could have been flipped. But it’s up to this veteran squad to make something of their most heartbreaking defeat and turn those feelings into a reason worth fighting for.
A state championship says to the nation and to everyone who knows of you, that you are the best of the best and you earned that title you’ve gained, especially now that the team is in the highest class, 5A. What I see from the stands is not a team that wants to match last year’s result, but instead to go all the way and make school history. Winning a state championship will do just the trick. Past New York Jets head coach, Herman Edwards once said “You play to win the game”. That is exactly what this group of Warriors must do. Play their hearts out, give every inch of strength they have into each and every future game, and play like it’s their last game on the field. And that comes straight, “From The Mezzanine”.
Evan Abramson / Senior Staff Writer