By: J. Daniel Pearson
For Positively Osceola
It was a mixed bag of results for Osceola County’s three soccer teams that advanced to their respective district championship games this week.
Celebration boys’ team moves on to next week’s regional round by winning the Class 7A, District 5 championship with an impressive 3-2 overtime win over Olympia on Tuesday night. The victory, the Storm’s sixth district title in school history, kept Celebration (10-0-4) undefeated this season and means they will host a regional quarterfinal at home on Wednesday (2/9) night.
“It was a great win for the kids and the program,” Coach Chad Boudreaux said. “We played a near perfect first half. Unfortunately, I think we got a little complacent in the second and allowed them back in the game.”
With excellent ball movement, Celebration controlled possession and kept pressure on the entire half, grabbing a 2-0 lead on goals by Jose D’Lima and Sebastian Ramis. It was the near opposite of the Storm’s 3-2 win over Windermere in the district semifinals four days earlier, when they fell behind 2-0 in the first half and had to rally for the win.
This time, it was Olympia that rallied.
Following the water break at the 20-minute mark, the Titans scored two quick goals to tie the score at 2-2. Although Celebration would take control again, they failed to find the back of the net which forced two, ten-minute overtime periods.
“After we gave up that second goal, I think it woke us up. We started to play our game again and it never felt like the guys were going to let it get to penalty kicks.”
It never did.
With five minutes to go, Mohammed Raky took a through ball and easily beat goalie Juan Barbosa on a shot for the game-winner.
Also competing for a district title this week was Harmony, who was hosting top-seeded Davenport Ridge Community in Class 6A, District7 on Wednesday night. The Longhorns (12-6-2) would lose a hard-fought 1-0 decision in the game, but still hope to advance to next week’s regionals by grabbing one of four at-large spots available.
“Based on our strength of schedule, record, and the close loss tonight, I think we have some more soccer to play this year,” Head Coach Brett Ballard said. “Upsets could affect it, but I think we have earned a five or six seed. This team deserves to move on.”
Harmony would press early in the game, with Alex Tuyo getting two early scoring opportunities, but both shots were stopped by Ridge goalie Thomas Coniglio. As expected, the Bolts applied tremendous pressure but the Longhorns defense kept the game 0-0 in the first half.
“They are a real aggressive offensive-minded team,” Ballard said. “Our goal was to pack the defense, block shots and try to create some offense off counters.”
The plan worked for all but one brief moment in the second half.
Four minutes into the period, Harmony failed to clear a ball in front of the box and it deflected sideways to Thiago Costas, who slipped past one defender and slammed the ball into the left corner of the net past the outstretched hands of goalie Kevin Lavigne. It was Costas’ 17th goal of the season.
“We were pretty solid all game, one ball got deflected and they took advantage of it,” Ballard said.
With 10 minutes to go, Harmony had one more chance for an equalizer when Tuyo got a through ball and got a one-on-one situation with Coniglio, who came off his line and stuffed the shot.
If Harmony does gain an at-large spot, it will be announced on Saturday when the regional brackets are released.
Unfortunately, it is doubtful that the third county team involved in a district championship will be moving on. The Harmony girls team (9-6-1) fell in the 6A, District 7 finals at St. Cloud to top-seeded Ridge (17-1-3) on Tuesday night by a 6-1 count and most likely saw their season come to an end.