Sports Editor

CHS district title

The Celebration Storm celebrates defending its District 5A-9 title Friday with a 3-1 overtime win over George Jenkins.

After Poinciana's boys won their district title on Wednesday, Celebration's boys and Harmony's girls made it three Osceola County champions on Friday, when they each beat George Jenkins in their District 5A-9 championship games.

Storm defends title in overtime

Celebration midfielder Nico Romano said Coach Chad Boudreaux calls his team "the Cardiac Kids".

It's probably because the Storm might send Boudreaux to the hospital if their trend keeps up.

After playing likely its worst half of soccer of the season and falling into a 1-0 hole, Celebration (18-1-2) found a second-half equalizer and exerted the dominance it use to reach last year's Class 5A semifinal in overtime to ground the Eagles (14-3-2), 3-1 on Friday at John Bushey Field.

"I hate overtime. But this team ... they just refuse to lose, and they do it on their own," Boudreaux said following Friday's match.

Celebration will host 5A-10 runner-up Jupiter in Wednesday's regional quarterfinal. It could host Jenkins in Saturday's semifinal -- like it did last year.

Storm center midfielder Matuck Machado netted both overtime goals, and after the match was a little foggy when he tried to recount the match in his mind after the trophy ceremony.

"I'm not sure how it all happened, really," he said. "All I know is I got served two great balls and got to play them on net. We played with our hearts, our spirits. The fans lifted us up. We just wanted to win so bad."

Celebration found it hard to string solid passes together in the first half, and the situation got dire with Tyler Fine buried a cross from Jordan Heckler into the net midway through the first half. It didn't get much better for the Storm until there were 11 minutes left in the match.

Offensive pressure led to a corner kick and a header on net. Jenkins turned it away but Celebration maintained possession, and Romano was able to draw the Eagles' goalie out of position then drilled a shot past him from 14 yards to tie it.

"I had a window about the size of the ball to get it through, and it did," he said. "Championship finals are so different than other games. We're grateful to win and go on."

In overtime, Fernando Abreu streaked down the wing then played an incredible ball to Machado, who directed into the net with less than a minute left in the first 10-minute OT. In the second period, Gabe Pinheiro flicked a no-look heel pass to Machado, who got in 1-on-1 and scored an insurance goal.

Longhorns three-peat as 5A-9 champs 

Autumn Horn lifted a long range shot over goalie Emerson Ellis at the 27:43 mark of the first half and the defense made it hold up as Harmony defeated Lakeland’s George Jenkins, 1-0, in the 5A-9 championship game at St. Cloud High..
Harmony, which remains undefeated (18-0-4), will now host Jupiter (15-3-2) in a regional quarterfinal game on Tuesday.
“Don’t really know a lot about Jupiter and its roster,” Harmony head coach Scott Marlega said.  “But I do know they had a great season and went 1-2 against a great Vero Beach team this year and I know they have a lot of good players in that area.  It will be a terrific challenge for us.”
Marlega added that he was pleased to win the district crown again.  “It’s never easy to win a championship.  We came here three years ago and took over a successful program.  We have a target on our back every time we play, whether its district or in-county competition we are going to get everybody’s best shot.  But we got a group of kids that like competition and like to compete.  To repeat is always hard, to win three in a row is even harder.”
Harmony dominated the first half, not allowing a shot on goal, but only Horn’s long range shot from 25 yards out found the back of the net as the Lady Longhorns took a 1-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
“There was some frustration with our inability to get that second goal and it I think you saw that frustration build, especially in the second half,” Marlega said.  “But we knew going in that Jenkins was a sound defensive team.  Give their goalie some credit, she made some terrific saves.”