The Melbourne High boys soccer team won the Class 4A, District 12 championship over Viera on Friday, 2-0. Now the Bulldogs will try to do what they haven’t been able to do since the program last won a state championship in 2010.
They’ll try to win a regional playoff game.
The good news is that, because of Friday’s win, they get to try to do it at home.
“It’s a big deal,” senior Micah Smoak said. “We’ve made it to the regional quarterfinals every year I’ve played. With us being seniors, it’s going to be a big help.”
The win marked the third consecutive district championship for Melbourne. Viera also advanced to the 4A regionals as the district runners-up. The Hawks will begin on the road when the tournament opens Thursday.
Last year, the state championship games were played at Melbourne High.
All five classes will begin regional play on Thursday, and the four teams in each classification who win three regional games will advance to the state tournament. Those semifinal and final games will be played at Eastern Florida State College in Melbourne beginning Feb. 12.
Zach Stewart, who scored what turned out to be the winning goal for Melbourne against the Hawks, agreed that starting the road to the finals at home should be an advantage.
“Home games are the best,” he said. “We practice on this field every day, and we know how to play on it.”
Friday’s game was scoreless for 55 minutes until Stewart scored from a crowd in front of the Viera goal with 25:03 to play. He was assisted by Reid Ferguson.
“I’d say we felt a little bit more pressure (as the top seed), because you’re supposed to win the game,” he said. “Just because you’re the favorite, you can’t go in like you’re going to win.”
Jamie Carlson gave the Bulldogs some breathing room with 3:55 to play, scoring off a free kick by Nathaniel Grant.
Melbourne improved to 19-1-1.