The St. Cloud girls soccer team delivered an early birthday present to coach Shawn Beck.
After getting scored on first by rival Harmony, the Bulldogs answered minutes later with a pair or goals of their own just three minutes apart in the first quarter, and made them stand up for a 2-1 win Friday for their first win over the Longhorns since 2015.
“The team has the most heart of any team I’ve coached,” Beck said afterward. “They’re disciplined and driven. This group is jelling together as a team and came together for this one.”
After taking the lead 25 minutes into the match, goalie Krystal Cruz-Torres made that slim lead stand with four diving saves as Harmony continued to fire volleys on frame.
“That was a great match,” junior defensive sparkplug Zabrina Hellmer said a little breathlessly right after the final whistle blew.
“Harmony through everything at us; it was the dogfight we knew it would be,” Beck said.
In the 18th minute, Harmony (4-3-1) got on the board when Jenna Butcofski fired a shot from 20 yards that found the upper right corner of the net; it kicked off seven minutes of fury.
Four minutes later, Leilani We got free in the Harmony goal mouth and got dragged down, earning a penalty shot that Hannah Archibald buried into the left corner to tie it.
A minute later a St. Cloud free kick from just outside the box got through the Longhorn defense but rolled just wide of the net. No bother; just two minutes later, with the Bulldogs flooding the goal mouth with attackers, Rylie Pyewll pivoted and sent a right-legged boot just over the defense and goalie into the a net for a shocking second tally and the game’s third in a short span.
Pyewell, playing banged up, said the play happened in a moment. “At the last second I decided to shoot it, and I got it over the goalie and under the crossbar,” she said.
That would be enough for this class of St. Cloud (8-1-2) players to get their first win over Harmony.
Both teams will be back at it Tuesday; St. Cloud goes to Osceola, and Harmony is at Tohopekaliga. The Tigers (3-2-1) tied New Smyrna Beach 2-2 on Friday.
BOYS SOCCER: Osceola (4-3-1) took down Freedom, 3-0, at home Friday …
BOYS BASKETBALL: Osceola (5-2) backed up a win Thursday over Poinciana with a 59-51 win over Gateway. Edwin Colon came off the bench to score 15 points … Celebration (4-3) led wire-to-wire in a 66-52 win over Discovery … Liberty got its first win of the year, 61-54 over Cornerstone Charter.
GIRLS BASKETBALL: Celebration (4-3) dominated Discovery, 44-18. Dayra Hernandez led the Storm with 10 points …City of Life (6-0) kept its undefeated season going with a 53-15 win over Winter Park International Community.