Last January, Cape Coral, Mariner, Baker and North Fort Myers all were in the same 10-team district for girls' soccer. That was changed by the FHSAA for this season and next.
Island Coast joins Cape, Mariner and North to battle it out for the championship in the new District 3A-11 when the tournament begins Monday at North High.
Mariner and North are seeded 1-2 and, quite frankly, it would be a major surprise if they don't face each other for the district title next Friday night.
"Well, you can't underestimate the other teams," cautions first-year Mariner coach Lisa Schwarz. "This will be the perfect time for us to show what we've been working hard for all year. There would be no point to playing the regular season otherwise. We're going to go all-out to win the district by doing what we've done against these teams before."
Red Knights coach Donna Agostinelli agrees with that assessment.
"Two teams not to be underestimated are Cape Coral and South Fort Myers," said Agostinelli. "Mariner had a great year and is the team to beat. They have very strong players and have stayed healthy, but you never know about injuries. They can happen to anyone."
Baker, a two-time defending district champion, moved to District 4A-12 to battle with Fort Myers and three Collier County schools for their third straight title.
The Bulldogs defeated Fort Myers in the championship game last season. The two likely will meet in the semifinal round on Wednesday for the right to face one of the Collier County teams for the title on Friday.
The Bulldogs were projected as the new district's team to beat, but lost to Gulf Coast 1-0 in their first district meeting in late November. They tied with Fort Myers and Gulf Coast in subsequent rematches, so the Bulldogs have proven themselves to be vulnerable.
Despite having 13 senior players, just two seasons removed from a 27-1 season, reaching the regional semifinals two years in a row and adding one of the state's top goalkeepers when Amanda Kopale transferred to Baker last spring, the Bulldogs head to the tournament with a 19-1-4 record.
"We have to take care of business on Wednesday," said Bulldogs coach Dave Trepkowski. "It's a different season and different batch of teams and you can't rely on your past. To win the regionals you have to come out and play all 80 minutes."
In District 2A-11, Bishop Verot and Cardinal Mooney are the top two teams expected to fight over the championship trophy next Friday at Verot.
Verot should have little trouble getting past Gateway or LaBelle in Wednesday's semifinal while Mooney should prevail over either Dunbar or Clewiston.