So what was settled Wednesday night at Osceola County’s marquee regular-season girls soccer game between Harmony and St. Cloud at Gannarelli Field.
Mostly … nothing.
The game, which included fast transitions by both teams, shots that hit off posts and crossbars or sailed just wide or over them and yellow and red cards apiece ended in a 1-1 draw.
So the Orange Belt Conference standings end with both tied at 6-0-1. Better yet, the tie prevents Harmony (7-0-1 in district, 12-0-4 overall) from being the top seed in the District 5A-9 tournament that starts Jan. 28 at St. Cloud. Ridge (7-0-1, 17-2-1) will be the No. 1 seed, followed by Harmony and St. Cloud — and as the No. 2 and 3 seeds, they’ll likely meet in the district semifinal with a spot in the regional playoffs on the line.
Both coaches, St. Cloud’s Shawn Beck and Harmony’s Scott Marlega, said as much in the postgame handshake line, and had the same exasperated expression following the match: “Expect anything different?”
“We expected it to be a hard fight, and I’m sure Scott did, too. Harmony is always a tough matchup,” Beck said. “Our girls showed tremendous heart and fight, and we chinked their armor with a goal that I was happy to see it come in the flow of the game.”
Harmony had a 15-6 lead in shots on frame — St. Cloud goalie Krystal Cruz-Torres stood on her head making a dozen saves to keep the Bulldogs in the game — and Marlega felt a bit frustrated after the game that his team couldn’t convert on at least one more of them.
“We hit posts and had shots go over the bar. We’ve got more than what we showed tonight,” he said. “Maybe we’ll get revenge in the playoffs. This game started out friendly, these girls started out playing together in town and they all know each other.”
Each side had scoring chances in the first half. Torres stopped Carlie Rucks from point-blank range in the 19th minute, and on the ensuing corner kick, Lindsay Larisa sent a crossing pass over the bar. Seven minutes later, Lelani We fired a pass from 18 yards out that Longhorns goalie Angie Santos turned aside just wide.
The tussle remained scoreless until the 67th minute, when Autumn Horn was taken down at the edge of the penalty area, and Harmony was awarded a penalty kick. Larisa buried it into the lower left corner of the next to give the Longhorns the lead.
It was short lived. Six minutes later, the Bulldogs’ midfield got and maintained possession with a series of sharp passes, the last to Anniesha Neff, who lofted a shot over Santos’ outstretched reach and into the net. It was the first goal St. Cloud had scored on its rival since a 2-2 tie between the two on Dec. 8, 2015.
Harmony finishes the regular season next week with district tournament warmups at Olympia on Tuesday and home against Palm Bay Heritage Friday. Sty. Cloud finishes the season at Forest Lake Academy on Tuesday.