GIRLS REGION QUARTERFINALS Class 3A Ten years ago, the Tarpon Springs girls soccer team polished off its 2003-04 season by celebrating the program's first-and-only state championship. While duplicating that feat this year will be a tall order, the Spongers would like to send off its longtime head coach with a few more playoff wins before his departure.
John Freiermuth, a teacher and off-and-on coach of boys and girls soccer since the early 1980s, will be hanging it up after this postseason. The first step in delaying that retirement comes tonight at Robinson High School in South Tampa. Tarpon Springs (8-7-1), the Class 3A District 10 runner-up, is tasked with getting by the District 3A-9 champion Knights (13-5). Despite the slight discrepancy in record favoring Robinson and the Knights' high-scoring offense (4.6 goals per game), Tarpon Springs is fully capable of winning tonight's match. Robinson comes in as its league's top seed and Tarpon Springs was a close No. 2 behind champ Largo. A win may provide the Spongers a rematch opportunity this Tuesday against the Packers, who host Bradenton Southeast tonight. Class 5A Palm Harbor University finds itself in a familiar spot. This is the 17th straight year the Hurricanes have qualified for regionals since first doing so in 1998. Unbeaten PHU will host District 5A-8 runner-up St. Petersburg tonight, a team it beat at home 5-0 during both squads' season openers. Especially considering the Hurricanes' newfound offensive confidence, a similar result may be in the offing tonight. If PHU earns the win, it will host the winner of Bradenton Manatee-Plant on Tuesday night at 7. BOYS DISTRICT FINALS Class 3A It'll be an all-North Pinellas final to decide the champion of Class 3A District 10. Top-seed Tarpon Springs will host No. 3 Dunedin on Friday night at 7. For the Spongers, a once-dominant program that won back-to-back Class 3A state titles in 1984 and 1985, just reaching Friday's league-title game is something they haven't done since 1997. That's something Dunedin can relate to. The Falcons qualified for their first postseason since 1996 two seasons ago as District 3A-10 runners-up. Looking ahead, the winner of this match will have a markedly favorable region-quarterfinal matchup. Beyond getting to stay home, the league champ will likely play District 3A-9's Bradenton Southeast rather than traveling to Jesuit. Class 5A East Lake is the only North Pinellas team that managed to survive the brutal Class 5A District 7 field. A local East Lake-Palm Harbor University title-game rivalry scenario failed to come to fruition when top-seeded Steinbrenner (15-1-1) dropped PHU on Wednesday, 2-1. East Lake took out Plant 2-0 earlier in the evening and now has the opportunity to avenge one of its two losses of the season. Steinbrenner beat the Eagles 3-1 on Dec. 10. While this district championship may be the prelude to a winner-take-all future matchup in the region semifinals, Friday's loser will likely have its hands full. Sarasota Riverview is 18-1-3 overall and is expected to beat finals opponent St. Petersburg. firstname.lastname@example.org (727) 815-1071