Harmony is the top seed, as the Orange Belt Conference Girls Soccer Championship Started on Monday and will be contested this week in a bracket style tournament.
The tournament opened Monday with all the top seeds advancing as #1 Harmony defeated Liberty (14-0); #2 Gateway got by Osceola (8-0), #3 Celebration took down Poinciana (9-0) and #4 St. Cloud beat Tohopekaliga (5-0).
Led by midfielders Rebekah Wiles and Brynn Magner, top-seeded Harmony is coming off a 9-6-1 season. Coach Scott Marlega has an experienced group of seniors and says his team is confident heading into the tournament. “We want to compete for both an OBC and District championship and we certainly believe we have the experience and talent to do so.”
After early season losses to Celebration and St. Cloud, Jorge Molina’s Gateway squad took a three-game winning streak into the tournament as the number two seed. During that win streak they have out-scored the opposition, 24-0.
Celebration enters the OBC tournament as the hottest team in the county. Rebecca Camis’ team had won six in row since dropping a 2-0 decision to Freedom back on Nov. 8. The high-scoring Storm are led by senior Erin Ozyurek (10 goals) and sophomore Ellie Armstrong (9 goals).
“We have an outstanding mixture of experienced players and young talent,” Camis said. “We’re off to a really strong start and continue to build on the new culture we started to establish last year. We are hoping for a strong showing at OBCs this week as build to the post-season.”
Celebration took a 4-0 mark against county opposition into the OBC tournament.
Behind young midfielders Natalie Ocampo (freshman) and Sophia Hernandez (sophomore), Kristi Ford continues to build a young but talented Tohopekaliga squad.
“We have a very young and energetic team this year,” Ford said. “They are bonding and working well together as a team with total support for each other. Although we lost our starting goalkeeper to a torn ACL right before our season started, Melina Swaisgood has stepped into the starter’s role and is certainly up to the challenge. This is a great building year for the Lady tigers and we are super excited to watch as this team hopefully will grow, play and win together– both on and off the field.”
Despite losing some talented seniors off of last year’s team, long-time St. Cloud coach Shawn Beck believes the Bulldogs have a chance to compete for both the OBC title and a district crown. Midfielder Karen Prado; centerbacks Delia MacDonald and Natalia Martinez; and forward Sofia Hauser are his top returning players.
2023 Orange Belt Conference Tournament Schedule
Monday, Dec. 5
Game 1: Harmony 14, Liberty 0
Game 2: Gateway 8, Osceola 0
Game 3: Celebration 9, Poinciana 0
Game 4: St. Cloud 5, Tohopekaliga 0