PONTE VEDRA, Fla. – It’s been a perfect start for area girls soccer teams in state championship matches this week.
The area is 3 for 3 in title games this week, with Bishop Kenny, Bolles and St. Johns Country Day all winning championships on Wednesday in DeLand.
We may not be done yet.
Bartram Trail and Ponte Vedra look to continue the area’s perfect week on Friday when they play in the Class 7A and 5A championship games, respectively.
The Bears (20-1-3) are ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 1 in the country, according to MaxPreps. They face Cypress Bay (22-1) at 7 p.m. at Spec Martin Stadium.
The Sharks (16-5-4) face Archbishop McCarthy (21-1-2) at 1 p.m.
Four weeks into the season, Ponte Vedra was laboring along, with a 2-5-2 not exactly an inspiring record.
“To come back from that we have been undefeated since then and to make it here is crazy,” said Sharks senior Ireland Hagan.
The odds had not been in the Sharks' favor for the past few months. But Ponte Vedra got hot at the right time, rattling off a 16-game unbeaten streak to thunder into the state final.
“Everyone loves everyone and we all just get along super well,” said senior Sarah Sunas.
Added senior Julia Deal, “From tryouts until now how we have grown as a team not just individually but together how we work together I feel like when we are all on the field it is more fluid now.”
Senior Kai Hayes said, “We don’t take anything to heart we really take it as we are going to work for our best friend next to us.”
Ponte Vedra will be playing in its fifth state final but its first since 2016. Even though there will be championship gold on the line the team won’t approach the game any differently than any other game.
Senior Cassidy Bierwagen said “we come to all games pretty serious every game is important to use I feel like this is the same we just need to relax and play like we normally do.”
For the Bears, it’s a long time in the making to get back here.
Bartram reached the state title game one time, the Class 4A game in 2010, a powerful offensive squad led by forward Sam Scalf. They lost to Merritt Island in penalty kicks.
Bears coach Jennifer Rodrguez has been at the school since it opened in 2000 and has led Bartram to playoff berths 16 times. They’d been denied by private school powerhouse Montverde Academy in the state semifinals the last two years.
This year, the Bears’ lone loss came in a 3-2 slugfest to Montverde — in the regular season. Montverde played as an independent this year. Bartram is exceptionally deep. Its leading scorer, Ella Dudley, has just 11 goals. The flip side is that the Bears have had a staggering 17 players score goals this season.
Bartram’s defense has allowed just 11 goals all season.