Boys Soccer Power Poll: Mustangs, Panthers power into poll

Here are this week’s 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. 8 games. The girls soccer rankings appear each Monday.


1. Fleming Island (14-0-1, 4A). Last week: 1.

Quality wins: Bartram Trail, Mandarin, Oakleaf, Tallahassee Leon.

This week: This was revenge time. Fleming Island extended its unbeaten streak past the one-year mark with a 4-2 victory Monday at Tallahassee Leon, the last team to top the Golden Eagles during the 2016-17 season. That success came after an excellent week in the St. Johns River Athletic Conference tournament. Fleming Island defeated Orange Park 8-0 in the semifinal, getting five goals from Lucas Hauth and three from Reed Davis as the pair boosted their scoring totals further into the stratosphere, and then shut out Bartram Trail 5-0. A major week follows for the Golden Eagles, who play Tuesday against the always-dangerous Creekside, then Wednesday against Orange Park and Friday against Ocala Forest.

2. Fletcher (14-0-1, 4A). Last week: 2.

Quality wins: Bishop Kenny, Columbia, Creekside, Mandarin.

This week: The goals just keep on coming, 12 of them in the past week for a Senators squad that has looked positively indestructible so far. James Schaefer scored four of those goals during the week as Fletcher beat Creekside and Episcopal by identical 6-1 scorelines. But he’s not the only Senator on target: Brian Schaefer, Jordan Mackey, Grant Patton, Connor Moore, Sam Baker and Logan Bolwell all added their names to the list of scorers. Fletcher has won 12 straight games entering the Gateway Conference tournament, which could be a tricky one. The Senators play Tuesday against Wolfson on home ground, then head to Patton Park for the action later in the week. There’s a potential semifinal Wednesday against Atlantic Coast or Englewood, and should the Senators advance to the final, they would meet someone from the quartet of Mandarin, Parker, Sandalwood and Stanton.

3. Bolles (7-1-2, 2A). Last week: 3.

Quality wins: Bartram Trail, Bishop Kenny, Paxon, Ponte Vedra.

This week: One win, one draw for the Bulldogs in a nice overall week on the field. The defense did the job in a 0-0 draw Wednesday against Bishop Kenny, keeping the Crusaders out of the net in a key district game. Then, on Friday, Bolles defeated Ponte Vedra 4-2 in a contest of two traditional boys soccer powers. Frank Iturriaga and Nick Csikai scored early goals to spark a quick start in the victory. A major district matchup comes Tuesday against Episcopal, the only team to defeat the Bulldogs this season. After that, they’ll travel down the peninsula this weekend to meet Ransom Everglades on Friday and Miami Country Day on Saturday.

4. Sandalwood (14-2-1, 5A). Last week: 4.

Quality wins: Atlantic Coast, Mandarin, Paxon.

This week: This winning streak keeps growing for the Saints, who defeated Ocala West Port Friday to clinch a top seed in the district chase. Now, it’s Gateway Conference tournament time. The Saints, in the middle of their best season ever, could add some long-awaited hardware if they win three games on this week’s slate. They’ll start at home Tuesday against Parker, with a semifinal against Mandarin or Stanton set for Wednesday if they beat the Braves. Clear that hurdle, and they’ll be looking at a Gateway title game Friday night, quite possibly against longtime rival school Fletcher.

5 (tie). Mandarin (7-3-3, 5A). Last week: Not ranked.

Quality wins: Atlantic Coast, Flagler Palm Coast, Paxon.

This week: Welcome back to the rankings for the Mustangs, who often hit full speed once the latter part of the season rolls around. That’s certainly happened of late. Mandarin rolled 5-1 past Gainesville Buchholz, getting a hat trick from Ardit Zani and one goal apiece from John Mason and Amar Mesic. That’s the second straight win for the Mustangs, who are in position for the second seed in District 1-5A and got further help when West Port beat Ocala Forest 4-1 Thursday. Their focus now turns to the Gateway Conference tournament. They’ve got a tough test Tuesday against Stanton and, if they win, they could then get district foe Sandalwood in a rematch on Wednesday. The tournament final would be Friday night at Patton Park.

5. (tie). Ridgeview (8-1-0, 3A). Last week: Not ranked.

Quality wins: Matanzas, Ponte Vedra, St. Johns Country Day.

This week: With just one loss going into the third week of January and a victory over defending state semifinalist Ponte Vedra, it’s time to start taking the Panthers seriously. Junior Miguel Ortiz has struck 17 times to emerge as the leading scorer on a senior-laden team, which could end up as an unexpected top seed in District 4-3A. They’ll have a couple of Clay County clashes this week to further bolster their credentials: A Wednesday match against the always-dangerous Oakleaf, followed by a Saturday game against Orange Park.

On the bubble: Bartram Trail (9-3-2, 4A); Creekside (6-4-1, 4A); Englewood (8-1-1, 4A); Ponte Vedra (9-4-1, 3A).

Gateway Conference tournament schedule: Tuesday, quarterfinals, Englewood at Atlantic Coast, 5:30 p.m.; Mandarin vs. Stanton (at Sandalwood), 5:30 p.m.; Wolfson at Fletcher, 7:20 p.m.; Parker at Sandalwood, 7:20 p.m.; Wednesday, semifinals, at Patton Park, Mandarin-Stanton winner vs. Parker-Sandalwood winner, 5:30 p.m.; Englewood-Atlantic Coast winner vs. Wolfson-Fletcher winner, 7:20 p.m.; Friday, championship, at Patton Park, 7:20 p.m.