- Adam Lichtenstein Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
American Heritage’s boys soccer program became accustomed to success. The Stallions won three state championships and appeared in three others from 2004 to 2011, missing the title game in only two years.
But since then, the team has struggled to get back to that level, falling in the regional finals in 2013, 2014, and 2015. The Stallions got knocked out in the regional quarterfinals in 2016 and the regional semifinals last year.
But now Heritage (19-3-1) is going back to where it feels it belongs. The Stallions will play Jacksonville-Bolles (15-2-3) at 4 p.m. Thursday in Deland in the Class 2A state title game.
“When I first had the opportunity to come to this school, I was outside of the area — I was in the D.C. Metro Area — so when I came down, I found out that this school is a big, big traditional powerhouse,” coach Jonathan Frias said. “But it’s gone, in terms of the results, it hasn’t gone well. So getting back to the finals is (important).”
“They’ve really been what I consider spoiled because they’ve always had success.”
The Stallions made it back to the title game with a 3-0 semifinal win on the road against LaBelle on Saturday.
“It was a little frustrating because we just couldn’t get that elusive goal,” Frias said. “We ended up getting it at the 30-minute mark, and we could’ve scored three or four before that.”
Frias said senior forward Alexandre Guichard has been the key for Heritage during the Stallions’ playoff run. Guichard leads the team with 32 goals and is among the top playmakers, racking up 20 assists so far this season.
“He’s what I consider a target player, the guy we’ve relied on a lot,” Frias said.
The Stallions have gotten major contributions all season from first-team All-Area pick Douglas Phillips (20 goals), goalkeeper Brian Lopez (0.74 goals against average), midfielder Riley Ferch (13 goals, 26 assists) and defender Kharym Florvil (four goals, six assists).
Those players are some of the Stallions’ 13 seniors, who have been through the program’s downswing and are now hoping to end their high school careers on a high note.
“Because of our senior class … we’ve always tried to be grounded,” Frias said, “because as we found out last year, especially from some of the kids that have played at high levels, they were a little bit overconfident.”