North Pinellas round-up: Make-or-break for soccer

The time for making final preparations is just about over for area soccer programs.

District tournaments are on the horizon, with the girls getting started as early as Saturday and the boys next week.

The biggest question for both genders will be who survives the Class 5A District 7 tournaments and which East Lake and Palm Harbor University squads will make the cut.

For the girls, one of those deserving teams is guaranteed to go home. Assuming No. 3 PHU gets by last-place Alonso on Saturday afternoon, the Hurricanes are in line to play No. 2 East Lake in a semifinal that sends the loser home for good.

Winter break brought some much-needed rest for both rosters, meaning the intense showdown at PHU next week will be one to circle.

The District 5A-7 boys field shakes out a little differently.

East Lake is a solid two-seed, whereas PHU is an erratic four. Despite the ’Canes uneven play, East Lake Coach Alex Stenson said before winter break that PHU at full strength is completely capable of playing its way into the league championship match.

Tourney pairings would allow for an East Lake-PHU title game, but that would likely require the Eagles taking care of Plant, and, as a more difficult task, the ’Canes besting No. 1 Steinbrenner.

In other North Pinellas soccer news, Tarpon Springs — and maybe even Dunedin? — could very well be working toward gaining a little attention. Both schools’ boys and girls programs have potential to come out of their shared District 3A-10 tournaments.

The Spongers hold a decided advantage over the Falcons, considering they’ll enter the girls field in second place behind Largo and the boys are No. 1 with a 4-0-1 league mark. Dunedin is third in both standings.

PHU Hurricane Watch Tournament

The PHU boys’ Hurricane Watch Tournament continues throughout this week and wraps up on Friday night. Game time has not yet been announced.

Prince brothers throwing down

PHU picked up some big-time recognition last week when Wrestling Magazine USA ranked the team No. 4 in its seven-state Southeast Region. The ’Canes came in behind top-ranked Archer, Ga., Brandon and Homestead South Dade.

PHU heads north to the Nature Coast Duals in Spring Hill this Friday and Saturday, but is coming off a fourth-place finish at the prestigious Buzz Hill Invitational in Naples last weekend.

Four individuals won their weight classes, highlighted by twin brothers Jared and Connor Prince. Tim Sakow (106-pounds) and Aaron Hartman (145) secured the other two golds.

Jared Prince picked up an impressive victory at 126 by beating Canon-McMillon (Pa.) senior Dalton Macri, 6-5. Macri came to Buzz Hill ranked in the top five nationally by multiple polls. The win also earned Prince the tournament’s overall “Outstanding Wrestler” honor.

Connor Prince pinned Barron Collier’s Tanis Taylor, No. 2 in Class 2A, in the 132-pound final.

Both Prince brothers are their respective weight class’s top-ranked Class 3A wrestlers.

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