Winter sports for the county, including the 2021-22 soccer season, has opened with several Osceola County teams hoping to complete for district titles and playoff runs this season.

The Celebration boys’ team has found great success in recent years under Chad Boudreaux, going an impressive 58-15-13 in the last four years and appearing in the playoffs all four seasons. Bourdeaux’s team is both talented and deep, as evidenced by the fact that seven different players scored goals in their season-opening 8-0 win. That talented roster includes junior striker Mohammad Rally and brother midfielders Ruben (Sr.) and Edgar (Jr.) Marquez.

Boudreaux believes it is the process and not the score that matters most. “We teach our young athletes what it means to work hard, stay focused, and be a contributor to society. What happens on the field may be out of our control. However, you can control your effort, your reactions, and your behavior,” Boudreaux said. “If we focus on what we are supposed to, we will always be successful.”

The Storm is off to an impressive 2-0 start this season, having outscored the opposition, 16-0.

After a 14-4-3 record two years ago, Rebecca Holder’s Celebration girls’ team hopes to rebound from a 7-9-2 campaign last year. Holder will have several explosive weapons, including three-sport star Erin Ozyurek – a junior striker – who netted 17 goals last season. Midfielders Lyan Cassamalhupa (6 goals last season) and Sophia Lazari (15 goals last season) will join Ozyurek as co-captains.

One of the stronger county programs in recent years has been Harmony.

With top returning players including Elijah Delgado (Midfield, Sr.), Alex Oulette(Midfield, Sr.), Connor Cecil (Defenseman, Sr.), Alex Tuyo (Forward, Sr.) and Kevin Lavigne (Goalkeeper, Sr.), the Longhorns have both talent and depth and Head Coach Brett Ballard believes his team is ready for a big season. “We enter this year with very high expectations,” Ballard said. “Our goals are to win another Orange Belt Conference, a district title, and put the pieces together to make a deep run in the state playoffs.”

Harmony went 9-5-5 a year ago and opened their 2021-22 campaign with a 5-1 win over Space Coast and a 2-2 draw with Timber Creek.

In his 14 seasons with the Longhorns, Scott Marlega has been a head and assistant coach for both the boys and girls programs. Beginning his sixth season as head coach of the Lady Longhorns, Marlega has put up some impressive numbers – including a 40-14-6 record in the last three seasons. Top returning talent for the Longhorns includes Morgan Sullivan (Sr., D), Brynn Magner (Jr., MF), and Bekah Wiles (Jr., M).

Still, Marlega loses quite of bit of graduated talent from a season ago – and then lost senior standout Reinna Scott to a pre-season ACL tear, but he says his team has the character to overcome those obstacles. “Losing Reinna to an ACL tear was a major setback but I believe our on-field team chemistry will help fill that void. We expect to be competitive in the OBC and district races this year.”

Harmony opened their 2021-22 campaign with a 9-1 win over Poinciana.

Veteran St. Cloud coaches Shawn Beck (girls) and Craig Weylan (boys) saw their teams post unusual sub .500 seasons last year, as the Lady Bulldogs went 7-8-4 and the boys had a 7-9-0 mark. Both are optimistic for a rebound in 2021-22.

The boys’ team returns Jacob Snow in goal with defenseman Yarrel Rodriguez and Jancarlos Amador also anchoring the defense. Jacob Pare, Robert Miralda, and Sebastian Alexander return as solid midfielders with freshman Adrian Gonzalez showing tremendous potential promise. “While defense continues to be a priority, we look to increase our goal-scoring output with seniors Nathan McCalley and Christian Cabrera,” Weylan said. “We are seeking our second District Championship in three seasons, but it will be a challenge as our revised district includes Ridge Community and county-rival Harmony.”

On the girls’ side, Beck will have a solid group of incoming freshman to fill holes left by some talented graduating seniors. Starting goalie Lexi Santiago(SR) returns, as do midfielders Karen Prada and Rebecca Labrador; and defenseman Delia McDonald.

Other teams of note this year include the Gateway girls’ team and the Osceola boys’ team.

Gateway Head Coach Jeremiah Swartz returns three of his top four goal scorers from last year’s 8-4-3 team, including leading goal scorer Nicole Ramirez-Parra who put 20 goals in the back of the net for the Lady Panthers last year. Strikers Isabella Distaffen (6 goals) and Kim Taveras (5 goals) also return for the Panthers.

Osceola Head Coach Dean Oliff moves over from Gateway, where he takes over an Osceola boys program that lost 17 seniors off of last year’s 8-4-3 team. Oliff will look for Axel Andino and Nicholas Ruiz to link up as Osceola’s goal scoring threats; while Rey Morris and Christopher Chacon will be pulling the midfield strings. Benjamin Izaguirre and Geronimo Rosero will lead the defensive back line.

The regular season runs now through Jan. 22, with district playoffs beginning Jan. 26 and Regional play starting on Feb. 9.