The Harmony girls soccer season came to a disappointing end Tuesday in the Class 5A regional playoffs with its first loss.
Unable to string the right passes together to get quality shots on goal and the tally needed to overcome a Jupiter goal late in the first half, the Longhorns fell, 1-0, to the Warriors, ending the year at 17-1-4.
It left a senior-laden team just staring at the Longhorn Field turf after the final whistle blew.
“We figured with 11 seniors we’d have the upper hand in experience and leadership, a lot of those players have won at this stage of the season,” HHS Coach Scott Marlega said.
Jupiter played District 10 rival Vero Beach in Friday night’s regional semifinal.
A game that resembled an up-and-down track meet for chunks of the first half went scoreless until 2:34 before halftime, when a foul resulted in a Jupiter free kick from 25 yards out. Madison Brown powered the kick into the left corner of the net past sprawling HHS goalie Angie Santos.
The Longhorns found resolve during halftime, and while maintaining possession for the first 10 minutes still couldn’t connect on a premium scoring chance. The best one in that stretch came on Jenna Butcofski’s cross into the box that was just out of the reach of an open Reinna Scott.
“I told the girls that we really took it to them to start the second half, and I was proud of that,” Marlega said. “I don’t know why it took us so long, but we were flustered and it took a while to really play. Even in the first half, we got some crosses into dangerous places but just didn’t capitalize on our chances.”
A series of chippy play that resulted in four yellow cards issued among the teams may have short-circuited the momentum, Marlega said.
“We calmed down in the second half and then we started losing our heads, it shook us and we lost the composure we built up after halftime. I don’t know, it went by too quick. We never found the composure we needed in the midfield to get going.”
A group of seniors that included the scoring punch of Lindsay Larisa (17 goals, 10 assists) and Carlie Rucks (13 and 23), defensive stoppers Yeni Calles, McKenzie Eaddy and Samantha Hizer and midfielders Autumn and Callie Horn, Samantha Blanchard, Vanessa Bolen, Victoria Martinez and Kara Osborne helped deliver Harmony a third consecutive district title and a fourth Orange Belt Conference championship.
Starting pieces do return, like freshman and leading scorer Reinna Scott (23 goals, nine assists), Jenna Butcofski, Abby Johnson and MacKenzie Kish.
“You look back and it’s a great season that you can’t take away, and only one Class 5A team ends the year happy,” Marlega said. “We have a good corps coming back so I’m still excited going forward.”
CLASS 3A BOYS SOCCER: ROCKLEDGE 2, POINCIANA 1. Poinciana’s boys had not been in a regional playoff game since 1997 — and early in its Region 3A-3 game Wednesday against Rockledge, the lack of experience did not show.
The District 3A-11 champion Eagles scored eight minutes into the game and tried to get that razor-thin margin stand up, but an eight-minute stretch of the second half spelled doom when the Raiders scored twice off set pieces, the Eagles’ weakness according to Coach Dan Joyner.
Thanks to the 2-1 win, Rockledge (12-4) will play at district mate Eau Gallie in Saturday’s regional semifinal.
“We knew that were going to make back post runs and our guys just didn’t continue to mark,” Joyner said. They were beautiful plays that led to two goals.”
Poinciana (7-12-2) came out aggressive and pressured the Raiders, which turned into the early goal. Samar Jawhari served a great corner kick that Caleb Mallia directed into the net with a header for a lead that stood into halftime.
A series early in the second half may have turned the game. The Eagles were awarded a penalty kick after a Rockledge handball three minutes into the half. The Raiders stopped the shot, but it was taken before the referee’s whistle, and Ahmed Fahim was allowed to reshoot. It found the net but a teammate was ruled to already be in the penalty area, negating the shot.
Goalie Felipe Petrucelli came up big over the next came up big over the next 25 minutes, making four key saves, but he couldn’t corral a free kick sent into the box with 12:19 left, and Taylor Williams put the rebound away to tie it. With 4:18 left the Raiders scored nearly identically to how the Eagles did — Christian Martinez served a corner to the far post, and Paris Ragan directed in for the deciding score.
Poinciana’s players were understandably deflated after the match, but Joyner was up beat.
“On paper, we shouldn’t have been here. We came out and played our game and strategy and it worked for a majority of the game,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, but it was quality soccer, at the end of the day, I’m pleased with how we played and we’re still district champions for the first time since 1997. We’ll hold our heads high and we’re already thinking about our schedule for next year. We feel like we’ve put the program on the map.”