Plant City-area kids are shining on the soccer pitch.
Five Plant City youths are Umatilla bound after scoring big in the Elks Soccer Shoot regional tournament.
Ismael Gonzales, Ashley Jeronimo, Jahir Villasenor, Kiana Kropp and Angel Guerra were all on-target at the Dec. 8 regional tournament, held in Ormond Beach, and qualified to move on to the Jan. 5, 2019, state level competition. It was an especially good day for Gonzales, whose 51 points scored were the most by any competitor at the event.
The Elks Soccer Shoot, which began in 1997, is a test of competitors’ accuracy as measured by their ability to shoot soccer balls into spaces marked by a grid placed over a net. This year’s tournament saw more than 100 kids from the area come out to test their skills at the local level and included a new U-16 Girls age group. Kropp will represent Plant City at states in that age division.
“We won nine out of the 10 age brackets at districts and sent seven of those over to regionals… out of the seven we sent over, five won their age group,” Edgemon said.
Unfortunately for top performers at the district level, conflicts of interest with club team games and one ACL tear meant some couldn’t compete at districts or regionals to potentially move on to the state level. But Plant City’s nine qualifiers for regionals more than doubles last year’s group of four who moved on to that level, and Edgemon and the Elks are hopeful it’s a sign of good things to come in the future as far as turnout is concerned.
Should Gonzales, Jeronimo, Villasenor, Kropp and Guerra succeed in Umatilla, they’ll move on to the southeast regional level in Valdosta, Georgia in 2019. There is no further competition for them after Valdosta, even if they win, so the group hopes to make every shot count in January.