By Jack DaSilva
While soccer season is officially over for the Florida High School Athletic Association, Gainesville’s Cornerstone Academy is just warming up.
For the Cougars, who play spring soccer in the Florida Christian Association of Private and Parochial Schools (FCAPPS), their season began in March.
There are 14 schools participating in varsity boys’ soccer and 13 schools participating in girls’ soccer. The schools are divided into two conferences (East/West).
Jon Doles coaches the Cornerstone boys’ team, but in the Winter he is the head coach for the P.K. Yonge girls’ team.
“For me as a coach it’s good to just continue training and take what I’ve seen and learned from the Winter season and plug some of that in to the group over at Cornerstone.” said Doles, who was describing what it’s like to coach one school in the Winter and another school in the Spring.
In the FCAPPS, the format is a little different.
In soccer, the field is about 20% smaller than most schools are used to but the goals are still full-sized. Coach Doles explained that because the fields are smaller the game is sped up as well.
The Cornerstone boys’ team is a young group with only one senior on the team, while the girls’ team has only two seniors. With a young squad both the boys’ and girls’ teams have a bright future and will be able to build on the foundation they already have.
Jamie Thomas is one of the coaches for the girls’ team and believes that despite losing a few key players that her team is in a good spot.
“Starting a fairly new and young team this year which is often times unfortunate, we got us new girls in that we’re excited to use and one of the things that we really stress with these girls is making sure that we play to our advantages,” she said. “So we have a young team—even last year we had a young team[…] so starting out with young new players can be great and can be really challenging.
“We are really smart. That is where our advantage is. Coach Doles is so great at teaching fundamentals of keeping spacing and knowing where you’re supposed to be and where the ball is supposed to be so we play smart ball and that’s really where we win games.”
Senior Hannah McGee will help lead the girls team, which lost three solid players from last year’s team, making the road to a conference championship much more difficult.
“While I was doubtful of missing the girls I was like, ‘it’s ok,’ because I was confident in our coaches and I knew it would would work out,” she explained.
Junior Abigail Mase is injured but has found a way to stay involved with the team.
“My role this year is that I keep the stats during the games, making sure the girls are always on time, and making sure that if they need anything that they can get what they need,” she said.
The Cornerstone boys, who joined The Prep Zone show with the girls on March 21, feel they are in contention for a conference championship
“I guess it’s just the teamwork and all of us working together […] I believe our teamwork is our best effort,” said sophomore Matthew Lobatos.
Coach Doles is respected by his players who understand that he’s had success with his previous position coaching the Lady Blue Wave.
“He’s a great coach,” noted Lobatos.
Where there’s inexperience, the Cornerstone boys’ and girls’ soccer team makes up for in knowledge.
Girls’ Head Coach Dominic Griego, Doles, and the other coaches have done a great job at coaching and mentoring these players on and off the field.
The conference season continues this Thursday vs. The Rock School (Gainesville). The boy’s game is at 5 p.m., followed by the girls at 6:30 p.m.
The conference tournament dates are April 27-29 and the FCAPPS State Invitational Tournament is May 5-6 in Lakeland.