Boys Soccer Power Poll: Fleming Island, Fletcher still perfect ahead of Friday showdown

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. 22 games. The girls soccer rankings appear each Monday.


1. Fleming Island (16-0-2, 4A). Last week: 1.

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

This week: The goal count is up to 48 for Reed Davis, the senior striking star who might be on his way to another statewide award at his current pace. He powered five goals past Orange Park in a 10-0 victory Wednesday and netted a hat trick in Friday’s 6-1 win against Ocala Forest. Fellow forward Lucas Hauth has kept his own goal total surging as well, with four goals this week. So it was a surprise when the Golden Eagles failed to find the net in a 0-0 draw Tuesday against a defensively strong Creekside, the first time they’ve been held without a goal in more than one year. The regular season ends with two high-quality games: Tuesday against Class 3A power Ponte Vedra and Friday at Fletcher in a much-anticipated contest of Northeast Florida giants.

2. Fletcher (17-0-1, 4A). Last week: 2.

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

This week: The eight-year wait for another Gateway Conference championship is finally over. Fletcher knocked out Wolfson, Atlantic Coast and Mandarin to win the Duval County title, but it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. The Senators were strained to the limit by the Wolfpack, and needed two saves from goalkeeper Matthew Doyle to triumph in the tiebreaking penalty shootout after regulation ended 3-3. After that, though, Fletcher rolled past Atlantic Coast 7-0 and Mandarin 5-1, remarkably decisive wins against a pair of traditional rivals. With center forward Patrick Wendell playing in tank mode at the head of the attack, space opened up wide for left winger Van Slabicki, who netted a hat trick against the Stingrays, and right winger James Schaefer, who scored in both the semifinal and final. And, as usual, the midfield creativity of Brian Schaefer and Jordan Mackey worked wonders. The Senators play Tuesday against Nease and Friday against Fleming Island, ending the season with a potential game-of-the-season candidate for high school soccer in the area.

3. Bolles (8-2-3, 2A). Last week: 3.

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

This week: A four-goal game against an opponent like Episcopal, always a potential challenger in Class 2A, can only be considered a really good thing. That’s what happened Tuesday for Bulldogs midfielder Frank Iturriaga, who scored all four Bolles goals to down Episcopal 4-1 in a critical contest for the district seeding chase. After that, the Bulldogs traveled down the state, where they tied Ransom Everglades 2-2 and lost to Miami Country Day 3-1. There’s just one game left on the regular season schedule for the Bulldogs, a Friday game against Pierson Taylor. After that, it’s time for the district tournament, which will be held this year at Episcopal.

4. Mandarin (9-4-3, 5A). Last week: 5 (tie).

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

This week: The Mustangs weren’t able to defend their Gateway Conference championship, going down 5-1 in the final to Fletcher. Still, they defeated district rival Sandalwood 2-1 in the semifinal, and that’s definitely a plus. The Mustangs showed good coordination in defense, with Jacksonville University-committed center back Carson Sapp and sophomore goalkeeper Armin Cordic particularly strong, and showed the determination to rally from an early deficit. Jack McNamee finished off a straight-ahead breakaway into the heart of the Sandalwood defense, and midfield playmaker Ardit Zani blasted the game-winner with eight minutes to play. Mandarin’s scheduled game against Creekside was wiped out by poor field conditions, but there’s still a formidable opponent entering the Corral next week, with a Thursday matchup against Tallahassee Chiles.

5. (tie) Ridgeview (9-1-1, 3A). Last week: 5 (tie).

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

This week: Fleming Island may be the king of Clay County soccer this year, but the Panthers look like a strong candidate for number two. The Panthers held the other main candidate for that title on Tuesday, playing a 1-1 draw with Oakleaf in a county clash, and then defeated nearby rival Orange Park. Tuesday’s meeting with St. Johns Country Day will wrap up the regular season ahead of the District 4-3A playoffs.

5. (tie) Sandalwood (15-3-1, 5A). Last week: 4.

Quality wins: Atlantic Coast, Mandarin, Paxon.

This week: Sandalwood’s unbeaten run ended in the Gateway Conference semifinal with a 2-1 loss to district rival Mandarin, a team they could easily face again - maybe even twice more - over the next month. Before that, they cruised to an 8-1 win against Parker, getting a hat trick from Gabe Brown and two goals each from Noah Lepore and Justin Uhrmacher. Against the Mustangs, they took the lead before the first-half water break when Uhrmacher finished from inside the box, but the defense was caught out of position on a couple of occasions afterward. The front combination of Lepore and Shawn Maddux created several chances, particularly early on against the Mustangs, ahead of the central midfield duo of junior Kasey Lyons and sophomore Tarek Mubarak. The Saints are finished with the regular season schedule until the district tournament kicks off next week.

On the bubble: Bartram Trail (11-3-2, 4A); Creekside (7-4-2, 4A); Ponte Vedra (10-4-1, 3A).