The Palm Harbor University girls soccer program is among the best in the country. The 5A school has won five state championships since 1999, and now -- thanks in large part to a stifling defense -- the Hurricanes are poised for title number six.
Friday in Melbourne, the girls will face Vero Beach for a chance to advance to Saturday's state final. PHU is 18-0-5. They have surrendered fewer than a dozen goals total in their 23 games.
The defense is led by a trio of seniors: Sarah Raymond, Quinn Lombard, and Mackenzie Geier. The three have played together since early childhood on various clubs and programs, and now are ready to complete the journey with a trophy.
Sarah says playing next to her friends allows her the freedom to excel.
"Me, Mackenzie, and Quinn have played together since we were 10 years old," she explained.
"Mackenzie, Sarah, and I have played together on the same club team for a really long time, so we're used to each other and we play in the same positions on club, too," Quinn offered. "I'm always on the right, Sarah's always on the left, and Mackenzie's always in the middle."
Mackenzie, the third amiga, finishes the sentence for the other two. "I know exactly where they will be and we worked really well together because we're so compatible."
Head coach John Planamenta has been at the PHU helm for three of the school's five titles. He says he knew this group was special from the time they set foot on campus.
"To see them coming in as freshman...strong players...thinking down the road that's going to be a good core to build around," Planamenta said. "It would be great to see them get that last step. To make it to the final four is a great accomplishment. Two more games, hopefully they walk away from their senior year of high school with a great memory."
The Hurricanes, under Coach Planamenta's guidance, are truly the team entity to which every program aspires. Here's how Mackenzie describes the dynamic: "It's crazy to come out every single day and play with people who I would hang with outside of school and outside of all of this...to win a state championship with the people I want to win it with would just be awesome."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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