Posted January 10, 2017 05:22 pm

FHSAA announces 2017 soccer finals will be in DeLand

Monday evening, the Florida High School Athletic Association announced its boys and girls state championships will be held in DeLand from Feb. 15- 18.

In a change from recent years, only the state finals will be played at Spec Martin Stadium.

The 20 semifinal matches — two for each of the five girls and boys classifications — will be held on campus. Both the boys and girls state semifinals will kick off on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. The team at the bottom of the bracket will be the home team in the semifinals. The brackets for both boys and girls soccer for the 2016-17 season have yet to be released.

“There is no movement to go that route, everything depends on an event-by-event situation,” explained FHSAA spokesman Kyle Niblett when asked whether the association would begin moving semifinals to local sites.

This may sound mundane, but in St. Johns County that information is more than germane. In each of the last 12 seasons at least one local program has advanced to the state semifinals.

The 2015-16 season featured Ponte Vedra completing the most dominant season in the history of Northeast Florida when they finished 25-0-0 to capture the Class 3A state title. No one this year, has separated themselves from the pack, but there are some strong contenders with Bartram Trail’s girls and boys, Menendez’s girls, Creekside’s girls and St. Joseph’s boys. Should St. Joseph’s girls find a way to unseat five-time state champions St. Johns Country Day — don’t laugh, the Flashes have given the Spartans everything they want and more during their two most recent meetings — their route in Class 1A is wide open.

DeLand and Ocala were the only cities in contention to host the state championships. The agreement to hold the FHSAA state soccer finals in DeLand is a one-year agreement. Of course, that doesn’t prevent the association from extending the deal at a later date.

“We are excited to bring the best high school soccer in America to DeLand,” FHSAA Executive Director Dr. Roger Dearing said in a statement. “We are looking forward to partnering with the City of DeLand Parks and Recreation Department to give our student-athletes, fans and coaches a memorable championship experience.”