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Teams of the Year: Central Florida

5/18/2009

Editor's note: ESPN RISE Magazine honors the top teams in each of the magazine's 25 regions. Disagree with our choices? Vote for your favorite athletes here. And check out the honorees from other regions here.

Boys' Team of the Year

PLANT FOOTBALL
Plant gets the nod for winning in a number of ways and prevailing despite
adversity. Entering the season, Georgia-bound senior quarterback Aaron Murray
was fresh off a record-breaking season and looking to lead the Panthers to
their second state title in three years. But when he went down with a broken leg,
sophomore signal-caller Phillip Ely and the Plant defense stepped up in a big
way. The Panthers topped rival Armwood under Ely's direction, while Murray
returned in time to play in the Class 5A state semifinals and championship wins.

OTHER FINALISTS

MELBOURNE + PALM HARBOR UNIVERSITY (TIE) SOCCER
Like their counterparts on the girls'side, Melbourne captured the Class 6A title
while PHU took the 5A crown. Junior forward Ryan Price (33 goals) led the way
for Melbourne, while junior midfielder Ben Sweat was PHU's best player.

HOLY TRINITY CROSS COUNTRY
A year after ceding the Class 1A crown to Trinity Prep, the Tigers reclaimed
the crown with a narrow three-point win over their rivals. Seniors Brett Butler
and Tyler Truitt finished second and fourth, respectively.

CIRCLE CHRISTIAN GOLF
Led by senior Phillip Choi, the 2007 medalist, the Centurions captured their
second consecutive Class 1A state title. As a team, Circle Christian finished 17
strokes ahead of its closest opponent.

GIRLS' TEAM OF THE YEAR

MELBOURNE + PALM HARBOR UNIVERSITY (TIE) SOCCER
The area's two most impressive teams played the same sport, and it just wouldn't
be right to choose between them. Melbourne bested Douglas -- winner of
five of the previous six titles -- to take Class 6A state, while PHU took down the
previous two champs to capture the 5A crown. Melbourne sophomore Kristin
Grubka, junior Nicole DiPerna and freshman Rachel Price combined for 62 goals,
while senior Michelle Grubka anchored the defense. Junior Catherine Brinkman
scored 34 goals and senior Ellycia Colon played lockdown defense for PHU.

OTHER FINALISTS

OAK RIDGE TRACK
The state's most successful track program in recent years, Oak Ridge showed
no signs of slowing down this spring. Led by sprinter Tatianna Fisher and four
other DI-bound seniors, the Pioneers remained the team to beat in Class 3A.

VERO BEACH LACROSSE
After being ruled ineligible for playing too many out-of-state games, Vero
Beach won an injunction -- and another state title. The Indians captured
their fourth consecutive crown and went undefeated against Florida teams.

LAKE HIGHLAND PREP VOLLEYBALL
The Highlanders captured their fifth consecutive state title this fall, besting
Berkeley Prep in the finals. Boston College-bound setter Krissy Mussenden
became the first LHP player to contribute to five championship teams.