Knights, Lions hope for postseason run

Posted on 23 January 2014 by LeslieM

Pages 09-16By Gary Curreri

If either Highlands Christian Academy or Zion Lutheran School is going to make a run at the postseason, both local schools will need to get past the top-seeded Westminster Academy in the District 13-1A tournament which began this week.

Highlands Christian Academy coach Darryl Mauro has returned to the sidelines after helping with the team last year. Mauro is in his sixth year at the school and has entered the year at 79-24-11 during that span.

We are trying to get them to play good soccer,” said Mauro, who previously coached the team from 2004- 09. The Knights are 10-5 this season and in second place behind Westminster Academy in the district. “We only have two or three kids that play more than high school soccer, on travel teams. Our four losses have come against Westminster (one) and three against bigger schools.”

Mauro’s title hopes were bolstered by the return of senior forward Kirvin Moesquit from an early season knee injury. Moesquit, who has an offer to play baseball at the University of Miami, is one of the team’s top offensive threats. He plays shortstop for the school’s baseball team. Senior forward Lucas Almeida provided most of the punch with Moesquit out.

We missed him,” Mauro said. “It was a major disappointment that he was out because he has a lot of speed. Our guys are starting to click. You have to have that magic dust and they have to show up to play.”

Sophomore defenders Evan Henderson and Elijah Kerr anchor the Knights’ defense and the team is also counting on sophomore midfielder Caleb Bien-Aime, senior goalkeeper Zach Muller and freshman forward Alex Felicetta.

Zion Lutheran coach Kelly Elrod has been at the school for nine years and returned two starters from last year’s team including German Curci (midfielder, sr.) and Noah Craven (defender, sr.). A third starter, the team’s junior goalkeeper, Don-Andrew Hanson broke three bones in his hand in the second to last football game of the season and has been out for the year.

Elrod said senior Frankel Alexis, a first-year soccer player, has filled in admirably for Hanson in goals for the Lions (2-5-4), which opened the tournament against the fifth-seeded South Florida Heat. Results of the tournament were unavailable at press time.

What (Frankel) has done has been eye-opening,” said Elrod, whose team was 6-9-1 last year. “He has no fear and his communication with the defense is actually getting better. I wish I had him as a freshman. The last game we had against Highlands, he had 14 saves. He’s been a Godsend. He’s physically capable.”

The Lions added three Brazilians, all juniors, including Tiago Santos (central defender), Rodrigo DeOliveira (forward) and Thiago Silva (midfielder), along with freshman Malik Murphy (forward).

Those guys have definitely helped elevate our game,” Elrod said. “I really want to make a strong, solid run into the playoffs.”

Elrod also singled out the play of defender Noah Craven, German Curci and Courtney Whiteaker, who, along with Noelle Gans, is one of two girls on the team. Whiteaker, a senior, is starting as an outside defender. She was on the girls’ team last year; however, the school wasn’t able to field a girls’ soccer team this year.

Courtney has been really well accepted,” Elrod said. “Her positioning awareness is very, very good. She’s been solid. I told her I wasn’t going to treat her any differently. Now that she’s starting, nobody has said a peep about it. The guys acknowledge she’s an asset. She and the other girl, Noelle (sophomore), have done well. This is the first time in my nine years there that I have had a girl on the team. They both fit in pretty well.”

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