February 8, 2024

First Academy-Leesburg Soccer Compete In District Championship for First Time in 18 Years!

2.6 min read| Published On: February 8th, 2024|

By Kyle Coppola

First Academy-Leesburg Soccer Compete In District Championship for First Time in 18 Years!

2.6 min read| Published On: February 8th, 2024|

First Academy Leesburg soccer made it to the FHSAA Class 2A District 4 for the first time in 18 years. They nearly made the FHSAA Playoffs as the game came down to penalty kicks!

What a wild ride it was this season for the First Academy-Leesburg Eagles. The team gave it their all this year, and coach Scott Van Dyken couldn’t have been more proud of their performance as a team. “I am just so proud of what they accomplished this season. They played with their heads up high and were proud to represent First Academy-Leesburg,” said coach Van Dyken.

Even getting to the championship game was a bit of a shock. First Academy was ranked 3rd and had to play Mount Dora Christian Academy on the road. Incredibly, FA-Leesburg won that game 3-1 in a shocking upset to earn the right to play in the district championship game.

That result also knocked MDCA out of the FHSAA Playoffs and was one of the first wins FA-Leesburg ever experienced against the Bulldogs in recent memory.

Both FA-Leesburg and Academy at the Lakes would score in the first half, and the score was 1-1. The second half brought no goals, and the teams would go into overtime. With neither team scoring in overtime, it was down to penalty kicks. Academy at the Lakes just had a better performance taking penalty shots and won 3-1. A heartbreaking end of the year for FA-Leesburg but a successful one.

Just a few years ago, members of the Eagles team had a winless season in 2021. Flash forward a few years, and the teams started to win games. Ultimately this season ended with a winning record for FA-Leesburg at 8-7, something to be very proud of.

Making it to the District Championship for the first time in 18 years was thrilling for the school, parents, players, and coaches. They have been waiting since 2005 for the opportunity, and they went down fighting and nearly making the FHSAA Playoffs.

(This is FA-Leesburg Junior Olivia Dougherty. While her season was cut short due to an injury, Olivia plays with the boys team. She is a tough player and hopefully she comes back even stronger in 2024/2025 for her senior year.)

Coach Van Dyken’s message to his team all season was a quote from Seneca. “No man is more unhappy than he who never faces adversity. For he is not permitted to prove himself.” Coach Van Dyken’s son Bradford Van Dyken was a key piece to the team all season, as was Adam Olivera, a junior who led the team in goals.

For Bradford Van Dyken, his career will continue. Van Dyken plays with BRAVE SC in The Villages. “As soon as the season was over, Bradford was right back over at BRAVE SC practicing at the facility. He is looking forward to the upcoming season,” said coach Van Dyken.

For First Academy-Leesburg, this was a step in the right direction for their program. Congratulations on a great season!

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About the Author: Kyle Coppola

Kyle Coppola was born in Newton, Massachusetts and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communications from Curry College in 2016. After traveling to Florida on a family vacation, he decided he could not get enough of the warm weather and made the move from snowy Massachusetts to central Florida 8 years ago.

For the last decade Kyle has gained valuable experience in social media content creation, marketing and sales, writing, video production, sports announcing and even broadcasting for local radio stations, such as FM 102.9 in The Villages and FM 91.5 in Massachusetts. Every year he volunteers at The Villages Charter High School as a play-by-play sports announcer for the football games as well as a public address announcer for the basketball games, including the annual Battle at The Villages Tournament.

Outside the office Kyle is a husband and father to two beautiful girls along with their cat. In his spare time he likes to spend time with his family, travel, play golf and swim. He is also a huge sports junkie and even bigger motorsports fan and loves to attend racing events when he can.

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