There isn’t much different about the Boca Raton girls soccer team this season.
Coming off a season that ended with their only loss coming in the Class 5A state championship game, the Bobcats have a similar lineup and similar objectives.
“Our long-term goal is to make it back to the state championship,” said Boca Raton coach Rachael Grimes, whose Bobcats lost 3-1 to perennial power Oviedo in the title game last February to finish 25-1. “Our season goals include competing for district and regional championships.”
The Bobcats lose very little from last year’s team, with 13 players returning. Just two starters graduated.
Leading the way for Boca Raton will be The Post’s 2016-17 Co-Players of the Year. Senior forwards Dayana Martin and Kendra Cashion combined to score 73 goals last season, and they added 36 assists.
Also returning are midfielders Arielle Silvester and Stephanie Dodson, who combined for 15 goals and 11 assists, and a strong group of defenders that includes seniors Alex Baxley, Quinn Knapp and Christine Sanchez, and junior Chloe Tebon.
“Our experience is a big strength for us,” Grimes said. “Our starting back line is back, and will be very strong. We have our leading offensive producers back. Having most of our starting lineup will be a strength. Most of our starting lineup will be upperclassmen. To have their experience and leadership on the field will be great.”
Boca Raton expects to be challenged this season, both within and outside the district.
Grimes scheduled some tough out-of-district opponents to help prepare the Bobcats for the postseason. Those opponents include defending state champions Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas and Oxbridge Academy, as well as American Heritage.
“We have added some top-notch opponents, and hope to get better every game,” Grimes said.
The Bobcats have high expectations for this season, but don’t feel pressure to repeat last year’s success.
“We feel that the experience last year just made us even more hungry to get back there,” Grimes said of the state tournament. “Last year motivates us to get better, work hard, and have fun doing it. Every playoff game was so much fun. We just want to work hard and improve throughout the regular season to get a chance to go for it again.”
Players to watch
Victoria Barreto, Olympic Heights, Jr., Goalkeeper - As a sophomore, she posted 16 shutouts and 181 saves.
Lexi Bolton, Dwyer, Sr., Midfield - Texas-San Antonio commit is a playmaker who also can score.
Sarah Borer, American Heritage, Sr., Midfield - An anchor in the middle, she contributed 17 goals and four assists last year.
Allison Breed, Oxbridge Academy, Sr., Forward - The reigning Small Schools Player of the Year scored 27 goals for the state champions.
Kendra Cashion, Boca Raton, Sr., Forward - Her 33 goals and 23 assists helped lead the Bobcats to the Class 5A state championship game.
Kayla Chandler, Spanish River, Jr., Forward — She’s coming off a 23-goal season for the district runner-ups.
Merissa Chu, Oxbridge Academy, Jr., Goalkeeper — She recorded 118 saves in 11.5 games and allowed 12 goals.
Makali Henkel, Park Vista, Sr., Defender: The defensive anchor also added two assists.
Dayana Martin, Boca Raton, Sr., Forward — The Post’s Co-Player of the Year scored a team-best 40 goals.
Samantha Sullivan, Wellington, Sr., Midfield — The four-year starter played a key role in 22-2-1 finish last year.
Teams to watch
West Boca Raton
Palm Beach Central