ORANGE PARK - St. Johns Country Day School girls soccer dispatched of two highly-touted programs over the weekend; 15-time state champion St. Thomas Aquinas with seven in a row from 1993-1999 in classes 3A, 4A and 5A, then Navarre High, a 4A power recently with a 2015 Final Four finish.
"St. Thomas Aquinas is the gold standard of soccer nationally," said St. Johns coach Mike Pickett. "I've been trying to get them on our schedule for 15 years. To win against them says a lot for our program though I don't think many of the girls comprehend that part of it. I told them we have 11 title and they have 15 and that's what they know."
At the showcase tournament at the Montverde Academy in Orlando, Pickett got a chance to show off his prowess with a 2-0 win over St. Thomas Aquinas and a 3-0 win over Navarre. St. Thomas, though highly touted from past titles with a most recent in 2017, has had back-to-back early region semifinal ousts while Navarre also has been a recent region semifinalist.
"We don't have the big name up front to score goals; I don't think we have any one player with 10 goals like in the past and we have had a balanced approach on offense," said Pickett. "Our back line of defense; Lexi Drumm, Maddie Moody, Ellie Rosanau and Lauren Weiss, with goalie Alexis Agramonte, all juniors, are our most experienced players and they are playing tough defense."
St. Johns has rocketed to the Class 1A state title the past eight seasons with 11 titles since 2005 under Pickett. St. Johns is now in Class 2A; district 3-2A.
"We've been playing a lot of the bigger schools and they are more physical," said Pickett. "Some of the inexperienced girls have to get used to that."
Against St. Thomas, goals were scored by Paige Crews and Gaby Loustau, two familiar last names in Spartan lore, while it was Lauryn Mateo and Mia Sadler the goal scorers against Navarre. Mateo has been Pickett's top goal scorer.
Payton Crews and Kamryn Loustau are former Spartan standouts; both excelling in college, Crews at TCU and Loustau at Princeton.
St. Johns sits with just one loss; 1-0 setback to Lake Highland Prep on November 22, with seven wins.
"It was a good reminder to the girls that we are the target," said Pickett. "Lake Highland celebrated that one like it was a state title. I told our girls to remember how that felt to watch."
The Spartans schedule continues to be rugged with Navarre in town on Friday and Lakeland Christian (7-0), a familiar foe in the Final Fours of Class 1A (now 3A) the past five years, visiting the St. Johns campus on Sat., Nov. 14.
"Lakeland Christian returns a ton of players with two very fast forwards," said Pickett. "This is my deepest team in a while with 16 girls playing against St. Thomas and 28 playing against Navarre."