By: Ralph Amsden
Hamilton soccer is having a special season. On a team that’s used to success, having appeared in the state final four of the last five years, this team has an opportunity to do something that no team in the country has done for the previous five years- beat Montverde Academy.
Montverde (pronounced Montverd) Academy in Montverde, Florida has had one of the more incredible runs in the history of high school athletics- a 115 match undefeated streak that stretches over 5 seasons. The Eagles are ranked #1 in the nation by TopDrawerSoccer.com, and #3 by MaxPreps, meanwhile, Hamilton High comes into tonight’s game ranked #8 in the nation by MaxPreps.
The match is part of the fourth annual Montverde Academy Soccer Tournament (MAST), and will be played at 6pm local time. Both Hamilton and Montverde won their matches yesterday to set up today’s meeting, with Hamilton shutting out Auburndale 2-0, and Montverde crushed Elsik High out of Houston, Texas 5-1. While Hamilton comes in with an impressive 12-0-2 record, Montverde’s last five seasons all make the year the Huskies are having look rather average (2010-11: 26-0-1, 2011-12: 23-0-4, 2012-13: 25-0-1, 2013-14: 23-0-1, 2014-15: 19-0).
Shelden Shealer, formerly of ESPN has 20 years experience covering high school and club soccer, now writes exclusively for TopDrawerSoccer.com. Shealer is at MAST, and says that the Montverde Academy Eagles owe this unprecedented success to coach Mike Potempa, who played in the MLS and professionally in Brazil before coaching at Clemson. “Potempa brought in his contacts and professionalism to Montverde, and has been the architect of this powerhouse,” Shealer said. Shealer described Montverde as a boarding school that is subjected to Florida High School Athletic Association guidelines, but has access to elite talent from all over the world. Not including this year, Montverde soccer has produced 54 athletes that have earned a college scholarship.
Hamilton’s Dylan Brown, who had an assist in the first half against Auburndale, and scored in the second half after intercepting a center-back’s cross in front of the goal, thinks the Huskies have a shot to win. “They’re a great team, but we have a great team too,” Brown said. “We play great together, and if we play like we’ve been playing, we can be the ones to break the streak.”
Shelden Shealer thinks that while it might be possible, it’s probably unlikely. “Crazier things have happened, but they’re (Hamilton) gonna struggle with the speed and quality Montverde has all over the field.” Shealer added that in order for Hamilton to have a chance to win, midfielder Zack Lipman needs to ignore his instinct to play upfield. “Hamilton has some very good pieces. Lipman is a great player but he must honor his defensive role, or Montverde will start to find ways to get behind him.”
When presented with the prospect of securing a rare tie against Montverde Academy, Brown was clear that the goal was to win. “We didn’t come out here to play for the tie.”
If you’d like to watch the match, you can do so by going to Montverde.TV, the cost is $10, but who knows, you might witness history. “Pay the money and watch the game. We could use the support tonight,” added Brown.