Charter Soccer: Rough Setbacks lead to Greater Comebacks


Photo by Natali Brito

Adam Abougendia, Sports Editor

   Less than a quarter left to play, 0-0. Junior Alex Champagne bolts forward and strikes the ball. Keeper saves and the ball falls on the head of sophomore Nico Diaz’s head and it’s in. Pembroke Pines Charter Jaguars, district champs once again. For the second straight season, The boys soccer team defeated Archbishop Mccarthy 1-0 in district finals to take home the title of the best team in Pembroke Pines. 

  In the past 3 years, the Jags had always found fairly easy competition throughout the regular season. However this season’s schedule was the toughest Charter has ever faced. Coming up against sides such as Doral Academy, St. Thomas Aquainas, Somerset Academy, Cardinal Gibbons, and Cypress Bay. The team went through some hardships going into 2022 with a below expected record of 7-5. The first result of the new year didn’t go to plan against Cardinal Gibbons as the boys fell once again 1-0 despite the better overall performance. This was the last straw and it was time to turn this season around, and fast. Junior forward and second highest goalscorer, Ryan Palelis expressed, “It was my first year playing high school ball, I had high expectations for us going into this year. So when we started off slow it was kinda de-motivating, but there was no doubt in my mind that we would turn it around in time for districts and regionals.”

  Turn it around they did as the boys racked up win after win in 2022. After beating an undefeated Everglades team, Charter went undefeated in each of their next nine games, taking out every tough, highly ranked opponent on their way to the district tournament.

  Four year senior Nic Roman picked up a gruesome injury at the beginning of the 2020-2021 season causing him to miss out on the majority of that season as well as the beginning of the 2021-22 season. Fortunately for the Jaguars, Roman was back and fully healthy for districts and he was ready to pick up where he left off, explaining “the past year has been difficult for me physically and emotionally, not being able to play my senior year would’ve been one of the hardest things to deal with in my life. Luckily I got to play and was excited to just be out there with the boys and make one last run at a state championship.” Roman brought much needed energy back to the squad as he racked up 14 goals in 12 games and led the way scoring a whopping five goals in a 5-2 comeback against Lely High School in regional quarter-finals. 

  A district championship win and bragging rights against schools such as Archbishop Mccarthy and Somerset Academy was not enough for Charter. They wanted more and as the regional semi-finals approached, there was only ever gonna be one team that was waiting for them, Belen Jesuit. The team that knocked off the Jaguars last year and ultimately were the State Champions of 5A in 2021. 

  Moral was high in the leadup to the biggest game of the year. As the day fell and the lights came on, the game kicked off and all the spotlight was on these two teams who were battling, giving it all they got for 90 minutes. Pines Charter started the better of the two teams creating numerous chances but none found the back of the net. As time ticked on, Belen found their rhythm and right as the third quarter was about to end, the Wolverines found their goal off a set piece to take the lead going into the fourth quarter. 

  Despite countless chants from parents, coaches, faculty, and even the Lady Jags soccer team, the boys couldn’t find an equalizer and ultimately fell 3-0 to Belen who are now the favorites to repeat as state champions once again. Pembroke Pines Charter Soccer has been on the map since 2019 and the squad has submitted their claims as top teams in the state. There is no doubt in any coaches, players, or supporters mind that they will be back for vengeance next year and as the road to redemption was halted in regional semis, the end goal is certainly near for the Jaguars.