MONTVERDE, Fla. – While the Montverde Academy Soccer Tournament stands as the premier winter showcase as it pertains to ranked teams, the eight teams enter the event in various stages of their season.
The Florida teams are finished with all other regular season play, and for the host, Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.), this stands as the conclusion of the season. The Louisiana rep, St. Paul's (Covington, La.), is nearly 20 games into its campaign. Watsonville (Calif.) and Paramount (Calif.) are a little more than a month into regular season play, and the lone Texas squad, The Woodlands (Texas), just started play last week.
Action kicks off Thursday afternoon with The Woodlands vs. Tampa Jesuit at 2 p.m., Pembroke Pines vs. Paramount at 3:45 p.m., Gulliver Prep vs. St. Paul's at 5:30 p.m. and Montverde Academy vs. Watsonville at 7:15 p.m. All matches will be liv streamed on TopDrawerSoccer at WATCH LIVE.
Here’s a quick update on the participants:
SIMA FAB 50 No. 1 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) … Led by the scoring of Kizza Edward, the Eagles are 17-0-1 and have allowed only five goals this season. With more than 40 seniors in the program, Montverde is running with big numbers of players in each match.
SIMA FAB 50 No. 4 The Woodlands (Texas) … The Woodlands won the Kilt Cup last week to enter MAST at 3-0 and one of three undefeated teams. … Wesley Mitchell and Nicholas Pekel have emerged as the scoring threats.
SIMA FAB 50 No. 15 Watsonville (Calif.) … Watsonville went 3-0 on a trip to face some of Hawaii’s top programs, but is 2-1-1 against California opponents. The team is coming off a loss to Alisal (Salinas) and a draw with Alvarez (Salinas, Calif.), two teams also in the SIMA FAB 50 Top 25. In both matches, Watsonville conceded late goals that led the outcomes. Senior Francisco Gonzales and Jose Villanueva are the team’s leading scorers.
SIMA FAB 50 No. 23 St. Paul's (Covington, La.) … St. Paul’s tuned up for the MAST with a 5-0 early week win over Hammond. The Wolves are 16-1-2 this season with the lone loss coming to fellow Top 25-ranked Northwest Rankin (Brandon, Miss.). The team’s only two losses in the past three years are to Montverde Academy and Northwest Rankin. Junior Justin Savoie is the team’s leading scorer. Reiss Thieler, who had a strong showing at MAST last year, is second in goals.
SIMA FAB 50 No. 24 Gulliver Prep (Miami, Fla.) … Gulliver joins Montverde and The Woodlands as the undefeated teams in this year’s event, entering at 11-0-2. Gulliver entered MAST with an undefeated record last year, but lost the opener to St. Paul’s in PKs. The teams meet again in the opening round this year. The team is coming off a 3-0 win over La Salle. Top scorer Truman Gelnovatch is back this season after missing MAST last year due to injury.
Paramount (Calif.) … Paramount took a major hit when its top projected returner was ruled academically ineligible. Still, Paramount has posted a 7-3 record and all three setbacks have been to teams that are or have been in the SIMA FAB 50 this season. Christian Perez has emerged as the team’s top scorer as Paramount enters MAST with a 9-3 record.
Tampa Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.) … Tampa Jesuit is a respectable 14-4 this season but will play MAST without its head coach, Eric Sims. Sims, who also coaches the University of Tampa, has obligations this week at the NSCAA Convention in California. Royce Pope and Benny Ortiz have combined for nearly 40 goals this season.
Pembroke Pines Charter (Fla.) … It hasn’t taken coach Alvin James long to rebuild Pembroke Pines. The team is 8-2 and the lone losses are to SIMA FAB 50-ranked American Heritage-Plantation (Plantation, Fla.) and regionally ranked St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.).