The Strawberry Crest boys soccer team has steadily improved each year since the school opened in 2009.
The team made it to the district quarterfinals in its first year, the semifinals in its second year and lost to Plant City High in the district final last year.
Given that progression, it makes sense that Chargers players have their sights set on a district title this year. So far, so good: The team has started the season undefeated through its first nine games, with eight wins and one tie. Head coach Scott Vomacka, who has been at the helm at Strawberry Crest for all four seasons, had expectations coming into the year but didn't expect to have a record this good.
Forward Mazeed Aro-Lambo has been a four-year starter for the Chargers. His play, combined with fellow seniors and four-year starters Noah Shaffer and Rahul Patel, has been a big reason why Strawberry Crest has steadily improved into one of the better teams in the county.
In the eight games he has appeared in, Aro-Lambo has put the ball in the back of the net nine times. Often, Shaffer and Patel, who play midfield, are the ones feeding him the ball. "(Shaffer, Patel) and I have been playing on the same club team — the Brandon Flames before high school," Aro-Lambo said. "We connect passes. I feel like that link has improved over the years."
Vomacka sees this year as a culmination of steady improvement.
"I knew we had a core group of players (when we started) and that we would have a special group," Vomacka said. "They started the program."
Vomacka knows there is work to be done. The team will most likely have to get past Plant City in order to win the district title. The two teams met on Friday with with Strawberry Crest winning 2-0.
"We just have to keep consistency. I don't think we have had a complete game yet," Vomacka said.
But if the players can keep their focus, Vomacka says, there is no telling how far they can go this season.