In his four years as the Robinson High girls soccer coach, Billy Helms has led the Knights to a lot of firsts in school history.
Last season, Robinson won its first district title and recorded 13 wins, including a region victory. This year, the Knights (9-4) will see another first for Helms — his first four-year class will be graduating.
They call themselves "Billy's Bunch" – even donning shirts with the moniker – and many of the seven seniors have been with Helms since he joined the program in 2009.
The team's regular season ended Tuesday night with a tough 2-1 loss to Alonso.
But Helms said that could be just what the Knights needed heading into next week's Class 3A-District 9 tournament as the top seed. Robinson (9-4) went undefeated and nearly unchallenged in district play, finishing 7-0 against next week's possible opponents.
"It was a loss and it was senior night, but I don't know how disappointing it was," Helms said. "Our seniors were a little disappointed, but they also came off and said, 'Hey, you know what? We played a tough physical game and we're proud of that.' "
Last year, Robinson ended the regular season with a 4-0 loss to Plant and Helms said he believes that refocused his team for the postseason. Motivation is key for the Knights coach, who each year has used a different trigger to push his players. This year, Helms introduced a cross-fit style training regimen that included jumping rope, flipping truck tires and pulling weighted sleds.
"Each individual person has to push past their comfort zones and myself as well," Helms said. "I'm not the coach who just sits on the sideline … I challenge myself right with them."
The Knights have a solid defense led by captain and Ruth Seleznik, who has led because of an "unmatched emotional investment" to this season's success. Offensively, Helms pointed to junior Caroline King (seven goals, nine assists), who has shined in the midfield as both an attacker and a defender.
Steinbrenner senior breaks school record
Steinbrenner girls standout Alexis Bredeau scored her school-record 79th career goal in the team's 8-1 victory against Alonso on Dec. 21. She broke the mark set by current University of Tampa player Cici Gonzalez.
In the Warriors' next match, Bredeau had a second-half goal on senior night as Steinbrenner topped Wharton 3-0. After the match Bredeau was all business, saying she hasn't had time to soak in the accomplishment of recording her 80th career goal.
"I can't think about it right now with the district tournament coming up," Bredeau said. "I know it's important and I know it will mean something, but that will have to wait until the season is over."
News and Notes
Strawberry Crest (10-0-1) senior Mazeed Aro-Lambo recorded three goals and an assist Tuesday in a 4-2 win against Riverview. Aro-Lambo, who has 14 goals this season, is fifth in the school's International Baccalaureate program with a 6.51 GPA and has been offered a full-ride academic scholarship to Northwestern University. … Newsome's boys team is hoping to have senior Ajay Sequeira (25 goals) back for the district tournament from a left foot injury. Wolves coach Allen Ware put a "50/50" label on the injury. Wharton senior forward Ashni Deschenes carved her name in the school's record book before the break, setting the single-game goal record with five goals in Wharton's 7-0 win against over Alonso on Dec. 18.