Bloomingdale Bulls Men's Soccer 2003-2004 Season




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Winning State Title A Bullish Idea

For Nation's No. 1 Team

Published: Jan 9, 2004


A Plant City soccer parent got the attention of those around him Wednesday.

``Hey, we're playing the No. 1 team in the nation,'' he yelled.

He got their attention all right, and when Bloomingdale's game against Plant City ended in a 5-3 Bulls win, the Raiders shouldn't have felt defeated at all.

They scored three goals against a team that is 16-1-1 and ranked the best boys soccer team in the country by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

After three years at Bloomingdale, this is Sam Isajar's team. When he arrived in 2001, Isajar adopted a team with a winning history.

Bloomingdale was the team of the 1990s, winning state titles in '93, '95 and '98. But an unfortunate series of events in 2000 led to longtime coach Dave Tennian relinquishing the team.

Isajar, who played professionally in Colombia, still puts himself in the middle of a practice.

``Sam Isajar makes them a No. 1 team,'' said Edwin Muniz, whose son is one of the team's scoring leaders. ``He's a go-getter. He expects excellence.''

Isajar's players say he brings a unique style to the game.

``He likes to pass the ball around a lot,'' goalkeeper Chris Sedlak said. ``That's unusual around Hillsborough County.''

Competitive Roots
Some parents credit the boys' lifelong trainers, Sam Primiano and Scott Sedlak, who have brought players along since childhood.

Most began playing soccer on Brandon and Valrico youth fields. Each has been a member of a championship travel team, whether they play for Brandon United, the Flames or the Plant City Lancers.

As Under-14 players with the Flames, Sedlak, Tom Davison and Luke Heldreth won a state title, then won the U.S. Nationals in the Nike Cup, earning a trip to represent the United States in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Four players - Alex Muniz, Shawn Mowery, Kevin Castanon and Omar Abdel Aziz - won state last year as members of the Under-15 Brandon United. In the Premier League, they were the Southeast Region runner-up. Muniz led all regional players in scoring.

Another five - Grant Novitske, David McClelland, Alex Labadie, John Emery and Jay Michael Ayers - played on a Lancers team that won the Under-17 Atlanta Cup and are three-time defending champions of the Cocoa Beach Nation's Cup.

Their experience meshed, and the Bulls keep the ball on the ground with a high level of skill. Their speed gets them to the ball first, and even with a lead they continue to attack.

Sedlak, who verbally committed to American University, has been a three-year mainstay. In 12 games he has a .6 goals-against average and seven shutouts. Davison, who has a scholarship offer from Columbia, is the leading scorer with 22 goals and 11 assists. Muniz has 13 goals and nine assists.

Good Friends
Twelve players, eight of whom are starters, will graduate this year. But Bloomingdale's bench is full. Isajar keeps 34 players (most teams keep 22) on the team and substitutes freely to give next year's starters experience.

Parents say the success of this Bulls team lies in the boys' camaraderie.

``This is a group of kids who really like each other,'' said Steve Mowery, Shawn's father. ``They truly want to see each other succeed.''

The boys have kept alive a tradition of eating pre-game meals together. A different parent hosts the meal before home games, and most, if not all, of the teammates sit down to a plate of pasta and bowls of fresh fruit.

``We've all known each other for a long time, even before we started playing competitive soccer,'' Sedlak said. ``We have a great group of guys.

``We are driven toward one goal - to win a state title.''

Being No. 1 in the nation is a bonus.


This site was last updated 11/13/04