Chase Doucette is starting for the Sandcrabs in his first season of high school soccer.
When Seabreeze’s boys soccer team squared off against American Heritage in the Class 3A state championship game on Feb. 24, Chase Doucette was in the stands at DeLand’s Spec Martin Stadium, cheering on the Sandcrabs.
He would have rather been on the field playing for them.
Doucette, who has played soccer since the age of 5, attended Seabreeze High School his freshman year but didn’t get to play for the Sandcrabs. He was a member of Jacksonville Armada FC’s Developmental Academy team and had been since the eighth grade. He was ineligible to play high school soccer as a result.
But entering his sophomore year, the now 15-year-old Doucette had to make a choice. In order to play for the DA, he would have had to join an older age group. He chose to play for the Armada’s Elite Clubs National League team — a level lower than the DA — which finally allowed him to play for his high school team.
Doucette, who is also an Ormond Beach resident of 13 years, has become a star for the Sandcrabs since.
“I love the competition, and I love the team work,” he said. “It’s just a lot of fun to play.”
Doucette didn’t really have a strong connection to anyone on the team entering the 2018-19 season. He knew a few of the players and attended last season’s games sparingly. He made it a priority to fit in and show everyone what he could do at tryouts in November.
“I’m a leader when it comes down to it,” he said. “I like to pass. I don’t like dribbling a lot. I’m more of a team player. And I love communicating and showing my aggression.”
His new teammates came quickly to his side, especially senior defender Will Crotty.
“All the team loves me and loves how I play,” Doucette said. “They’re always supporting me.”
Doucette found his groove with the team almost immediately.
He starts in the Sandcrabs’ backline on a defense that has surrendered two goals so far this season. The Sandcrabs, who are 14-1, were scored on in a 1-0 loss to Eau Gallie on Nov. 6 and a 6-1 win over crosstown rival Mainland on Dec. 17.
"It's like Chase has been playing with these kids forever. He's a great defensive player, and I'm a defensive-minded coach. He just fit right it."
Seabreeze head coach Elias Freidus
“I love playing with this team. It’s a real family,” he said. “We all work together, and we’re here for each other. When somebody messes up, nobody yells. We just support each other.”
Finally playing, and starting, for his hometown school is a dream-come-true for Doucette.
But there’s also pressure — a lot of it.
The kind of pressure that comes from playing for a program that’s been to two straight state finals and expects nothing less of returning to that stage.
“Of course there’s pressure,” Doucette said. “But I know we can do it again. We just have to be confident.”