The Durant High School boys’ soccer team won its first district championship in 16 years, beating rival Newsome High School 4-2. (Photo credit Ana Marquez.)

The Durant High School boys’ soccer team won their first district championship in 16 years, beating rival Newsome High School 4-2 on January 30. The Cougars made a deep playoff run, advancing to the regional semifinal. They finished with a 12-2-1 overall record.

The Cougars were led by first-year head coach Joe Savino. He said that the team had a lot of experience this season, led by a mixture of juniors and seniors, along with some young, talented underclassmen. Savino was impressed with his team’s willingness to quickly adapt to a new system and buy in completely from the start while working hard during practice every day. He also coaches for the Florida Hawks FC team.

“We set out with a goal of winning districts,” said Savino. “Our team captains, Matthew Jourdain and Austin Kartes, when I took the team over, they were very focused on their senior year, winning districts. That meant getting by Newsome, which had a tremendous team the last few years, and we were able to accomplish that. I’m really proud that we set an aspirational goal and we were able to achieve that goal.”  

A lot of the team success was due to three senior leaders that made the Hillsborough County All-Star team, Jourdain, Kartes and Julian Torres. The game took place on March 8. Torres and Javier Carbajal made First Team All-Western Conference. Jourdain, Kartes and Bilal Hijaz made the second team. Torres also made the All-State team.

“After beating Newsome for the second time in one season, I received a call right after the game to be called up to the All-Star team,” said Jourdain. “I was ecstatic. It’s a great way to end my high school soccer career, but instead of representing Durant I’m representing Hillsborough County as we face off against Pinellas County.”

Savino and his team hope to defend their district title next season. They will have a fairly inexperienced team with 10 seniors graduating this year. He hopes to establish a winning tradition, instill a fun style of soccer and get more kids from the community to try out and be involved in the sport.

“This season, I enjoyed being the captain and leading this team that I’m glad to call a family while also sharing my knowledge and experience with the younger players,” said Jourdain.

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.