No matter who wins the FHSAA Class 2A boys soccer state title, there will always be questions about whether they were the best team. That's because one of the state's best teams across classifications, undefeated Montverde (Fla.) Academy, won't even compete in the playoffs at all, despite being a recognized competitor by the FHSAA.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Montverde announced it's decision to forego the 2010 playoffs on the heels of a stunning, 6-0 victory over Tampa (Fla.) Prep, the defending Class 2A state champions.
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The international boarding school boasts one of the most highly touted and recruited rosters in the state, with nearly all members of the team hailing from overseas, including 10 from Brazil. Yet despite the 7-0 Eagles' competitive dominance, they elected to pass up on trying to compete to unseat Tampa Prep in order to spend more time developing the team's players with the hope of helping them land college scholarships. The school prides itself on that ethos, and now boasts a brand new, $5 million athletic complex which it officially opened just more than a week ago.
Like the Montverde boys basketball team, the Eagles' soccer team now competes as an independent, and the decision to pass up on a chance at the postseason also follows the basketball program. For the past seven seasons, the Montverde basketball team has skipped the postseason, yet continued to churn out top hoops prospects, with 35 former Eagles basketball players earning college scholarships and two currently competing in the NBA.
While the blueprint may have been there for the Montverde soccer team to follow, coach Mike Potempa's decision to keep his team out of the postseason still robs Florida high school soccer fans of watching one of the state's most stockpiled programs competing in the crucible of playoff pressure.
That's a negative for fans, but a promising turn for teams like Tampa Prep, which suddenly won't have to go through a tough Eagles team to repeat as champions.