Here are this week’s final Times-Union’s high school boys soccer Power Rankings, highlighting the leading teams from across Northeast Florida. The rankings are released each Tuesday through the end of the regular season. Records are through Jan. 29 games. The girls soccer rankings appear each Monday.
1. Fleming Island (17-0-3, 4A). Last week: 1.
Quality wins: Bartram Trail, Mandarin, Oakleaf, Ocala Forest, Ponte Vedra, Stanton, Tallahassee Leon.
This week: The regular season is done and the Golden Eagles still haven’t been beaten. Star striker Reed Davis cleared the 50-goal mark in Tuesday’s 6-0 shutout of Class 3A semifinalist Ponte Vedra, scoring a hat trick, while Zach Robbins, Lucas Hauth and Brad McMahon also struck the net. Then came the big one, a 2-2 draw at Fletcher’s Jack Taylor Stadium against the area’s other major unbeaten. Davis and Hauth scored second-half goals to fight back from behind and extend the unbeaten streak past 380 days. Those two strikers have now combined for 95 goals on the season, and there’s a chance they’ll reach triple figures by the time the season is up. They’ll now enter the tournament for the area’s most difficult district, 4-4A, with a likely battle set for Wednesday against Clay County rival Oakleaf.
2. Fletcher (18-0-2, 4A). Last week: 2.
Quality wins: Atlantic Coast (2), Bishop Kenny, Columbia, Creekside, Episcopal, Mandarin (2), Ponte Vedra, Stanton.
This week: An unbeaten regular season is now in the books for the Senators, the best year in more than a decade for the longtime Duval County soccer power. Fletcher began the week with a 4-0 shutout of Nease, getting two goals from raiding attacking midfielder Seth Donelan and one apiece from James Schaefer and Van Slabicki. Then, in their finale Friday against Fleming Island, Schaefer and Patrick Wendell scored early as the Senators got a 2-2 draw against the reigning Class 4A state champions, who are ranked among the best in the nation. Few will be shocked if the schools meet again in two weeks in the regional semifinals. To get there, though, Fletcher must get through next week’s district championship, beginning Wednesday against either Lee or First Coast.
3. Bolles (9-2-3, 2A). Last week: 3.
Quality wins: Bartram Trail, Bishop Kenny, Episcopal, Paxon, Ponte Vedra.
This week: The Bulldogs concluded their regular season with a 1-0 win against Pierson Taylor, with Stefan Mostovych scoring the lone goal to enter the districts on a positive note. On paper, they’re strong candidates to make a run deep into the Class 2A playoffs. But there are some obstacles still to come, beginning this week in a District 4-2A semifinal against a 2017 state semifinalist in Bishop Kenny. The regular-season games between those schools ended in a draw and a narrow Bolles victory. This game is likely to bring a tremendous battle involving some of the area’s top midfielders, Frank Iturriaga for Bolles and Luka Gjuraj for Bishop Kenny.
4. Mandarin (10-4-3, 5A). Last week: 4.
Quality wins: Atlantic Coast, Tallahassee Chiles, Flagler Palm Coast, Paxon, Sandalwood, Stanton.
This week: The Mustangs have reached full speed to close the season, defeating Tallahassee Chiles 2-1 in dramatic style to earn a quality win against a tough Panhandle opponent. Fullback Eduardo Gomez scored the first-half goal, and then front-line speedster Alex Pappadis tallied the game-winner just three minutes from the end. Mandarin now enters the District 1-5A tournament as the second seed, which means a Wednesday district semifinal against Ocala Forest. The previous game between those teams ended in a 2-2 draw on Dec. 1, with John Mason and Ardit Zani scoring the Mustangs’ goals. Win this one and Mandarin will go to the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season.
5. (tie) Ridgeview (10-1-1, 3A). Last week: 5.
Quality wins: Matanzas, Ponte Vedra, St. Johns Country Day (2).
This week: First place in the district: The Panthers finished the season atop the District 4-3A race, beating St. Johns Country Day in the regular season finale to wrap up a one-loss campaign. Next up is the district tournament, where the Panthers enter with an unaccustomed top seed. That means they’ll avoid a potential showdown against Ponte Vedra until the district final, and gives Ridgeview a semifinal matchup against either Menendez or Palatka - they previously won 7-3 against Menendez and 5-2 against Palatka. Victory would mean a return to the playoffs after a five-year absence.
5. (tie) Sandalwood (15-3-1, 5A). Last week: 5.
Quality wins: Atlantic Coast, Mandarin, Paxon.
This week: With the regular season finished, the Saints now set their sights on the first back-to-back playoff visits in school history. To do that, they’ll have to reach the finals of this week’s District 1-5A tournament. Up next in the district semifinals will be either Gainesville Buchholz or Ocala West Port. If Buchholz is the opponent, the Saints will get a chance to avenge their lone district loss of the regular season. The key for Sandalwood will be maintaining a firm defense as the foundation for Shawn Maddux, Kasey Lyons and Tarek Mubarak to dictate the flow of the action from the center.
On the bubble: Bartram Trail (12-3-2, 4A), Creekside (9-4-2, 4A), Oakleaf (7-1-2, 4A), Ponte Vedra (10-5-1, 3A).