St. Cloud, 3-1 — that’s the score that’s part of lore.
The Bulldogs won both the boys and girls District 6A-9 soccer championships Friday on a chilly night at Tom Gannarelli Field, by that same 3-1 score. It’s the first time both programs have won in the same year — and a lot of soccer has been played at St. Cloud.
Because the girls and boys tournaments were played in the same week for the first time in a while, and district coaches agreed to have higher seeds host through the tournament, AND since both Bulldogs squads earned the No. 1 seeds, the games were played on the same night as a doubleheader — again a first.
The girls took down East River, and many stayed to watch as the boys dismantled New Smyrna Beach.
“It probably helped us to watch the girls win first, and celebrate with them a little between the games,” said boys coach Weylan Craig, who’s coached the Bulldog boys for 11 years and finally touched that trophy.
For the girls, it’s the first district win since 2015. The boys last won back in 2004. They’ll play regional playoff games at home on Tuesday (girls) and Wednesday (boys). The FHSAA will release the brackets sometime Sunday.
Coach Shawn Beck watched his girls team start slow, as East River (12-5-2) scored first in the fifth minute, but the Bulldogs had an answer 12 minutes later, when Tina Velez won a 1-on-1 battle with the Falcons’ keeper.
“I’m sure it was just nerves, the girls anticipated a big game, and they just had to shake it off,” Beck said.
St. Cloud (13-6-3) took the lead four minutes into the second half when Hannah Archibald delivered a beautiful corner kick to the forehead of Maddie Barthle, who used all of her 5’11” frame to direct it into the net.
“Hannah’s cross was awesome,” Barthle said. “I was so glad to put that in to get the lead.”
Leilani We padded the lead with 9:22 left when she followed the bouncing back in front of the net and poked it through.
“Our defense was driven tonight, especially after getting kicked in the gut to start,” Beck said. “These girls all year long, they never give up and they keep fighting, and that’s something you can’t coach.”
The boys team set the tone early and seized momentum early. St. Cloud (14-5-1) peppered the New Smyrna Beach (8-6-3) goal early, but the Barracudas cleared two shots off the line and another went off the outside post.
They broke through in the 18th minute when Anderson Agudelo served a corner kick into the box that bounced around, found Mariano Martinez’s foot, and he put it in the net for a 1-0 lead.
And then when Fabrizio Lucia headed in a pass with 1:14 left in the half, it looked to have put the Barracudas on the ropes. But the beach visitors negated that when Jaden Smith put a shot through traffic in to make it 2-1 and a game again. Then the fates smiled on St. Cloud four minutes later, when NSB headed a free kick into its own net for an own goal.
“What was going to win the game was passion, and we brought that, along with a never-die attitude, and that’s what won it for us,” Craig said. “We’ve got a lot of seniors who want to keep playing, another 80 minutes.”