Boca Christian Blazers will set pace again on boys soccer scene

5:57 p.m Monday, Nov. 13, 2017 Sports
Boca Raton Christian’s Stefan Kneffel returns for the 2017-18 season after being named the Post’s All-Area Boys Soccer Small Schools Player of the Year last season. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

Boca Raton Christian is a small school with high expectations.

The Blazers, coming off their first district title in program history, have a trip to the state championships on their mind now.

“Last year, our goal going into the season I set for the team was to win that district title, that first-ever district title,” Boca Christian coach David Weil said. “We knew we had the team, we knew we had the talent. It was just a matter of doing it.

“This year, we expect to win the district. It’s not a goal anymore so much as it’s an expectation. … Our goal is higher. Our goal that we’ve set is to get to states this year.”

The Blazers finished with a 15-4-4 record last season, making a run to the Class 1A regional finals — further than any other Palm Beach County boys team advanced in last year’s playoffs — before losing 1-0 to Lakeland Christian, the eventual state runner-up.

As is expected, Boca Christian did lose key players to graduation following their coming-out season last year. First-team All-Area defender Felipe Fonseca graduated, as did second-team forward Alejandro Barcelo and honorable mention goalkeeper Michael Bradway.

But they key piece to the Blazers’ season is back. Small Schools Player of the Year Stefan Kneffel returns to the squad after racking up 42 goals and 12 assists.

“I want to win states and just score more goals every year,” the junior told the Post after last season. “Every year I try to score more goals and more assists, and that’s how I set my goals.”

There’s one catch, though. Kneffel’s club schedule overlaps with Boca Christian’s, so he and Weil worked out a schedule where he could play for both teams. That will mean missing some of the Blazers’ games.

But Weil is confident the rest of the team can pick up the slack. He said he expects a lot from junior midfielder Joao “J.C.” Conceicao and junior forwrd Felipe Robayo.

“We built our team around that player for the past two years,” Weil said. “He’s just that good that we can just build the team around him — with a lot of talent at other places, but they’ve all relied on him. This year, that’s not going to be able to be done.

“So there’s two ways the team can respond: Either we can all take a step up and all get better, and then when he rides in, he’ll just add to it and we’ll be a better team for it. Or we could crumble without him. And we have the talent where we don’t even need Stefan to be as successful.”

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