Flagler Palm Coast’s girls soccer team won its 12th in a row against county rival Matanzas with a 3-0 shutout on Tuesday, Dec. 5, at the Pirates’ field.
But the Bulldogs were worried that they may have lost Savannah O’Grady, their leading scorer and heart and soul of their team, for an extended period with a knee injury.
“I'm not going to speculate, but it doesn't sound good,” FPC coach Pete Hald said. “There was a collision, and she heard a pop.”
O’Grady, who leads FPC (5-2-1) with 11 goals, was expected to have an MRI on Wednesday, Dec. 6.
She’s not just our best player, she’s my general out there. ... It's going to be tough.”
— PATE HALD, FPC coach on a potential knee injury to Savannah O'Grady”
“We’ll just have to move forward,” Hald said. “She’s not just our best player, she’s my general out there. She takes all the free kicks. She takes the corner kicks. She's the speaking captain. It's going to be tough. Last year was the same thing, losing Emma (Swearingen to a season-ending injury). I’m just like, this is deja vu. Are you kidding me? It makes me sick to my stomach.”
Following the girls game, the Matanzas boys stretched their own modest streak to four games without a loss to their rival, holding off the Bulldogs, 2-1.
In the girls game, freshman Ivy Chen gave FPC a 1-0 lead shortly after O’Grady was injured. Chen pounced on a save the goalkeeper dropped and tapped it into the open net.
“After our captain got hurt it was really important for us to stay strong,” Chen said.
Senior co-captain Kaitlyn Steiner made it 2-0 midway through the first half, putting a shot into the left corner off the keeper’s hands. Senior midfielder Heidi Michaels scored on a penalty kick with 19:04 left in the game to close out the scoring.
“She was already leaning to the right,” Michaels said of the goalie just before the penalty kick. “So I knew I would (take a shot) to the left.”
The Bulldogs handed the Pirates (6-1) their first loss of the season.
“They came in undefeated, so obviously we wanted to end that streak,” Chen said.
FPC dominated possession and took 27 shots, including 11 shots on goal. FPC called up five JV players in addition to the six freshmen who have played major roles all season. Hald said everybody on the bench played, but he kept his starters in longer than he would have liked.
“If we had scored more goals, I could have used more players,” he said, noting that the Bulldogs had two more games this week and he wanted to give the starters a longer rest.
“I was getting frustrated, because we needed to make it a little easier,” he said. “I'm happy with the number of chances we created. It's just that we needed to finish more.”
Michaels said the Pirates were noticeably improved this year with several new players.
“They have a better midfield and better communication,” she said.
Matanzas, like FPC, also plays five freshmen.
“I think we played well,” Matanzas coach Scott Crooke said. “It was easy to see some mistakes that we were making tonight that we haven't been making this season. This game always has a little mental pressure on us. FPC played a great game. They are a very physical, strong team. The girls weren’t discouraged. It’s never exciting to go home with a loss, but they kept their heads up, and we’ll move on.”
The two teams will play again on Jan. 8 at FPC in a makeup game. The teams’ Nov. 17 game was canceled because of poor field conditions following two days of heavy rain.
NEW ADDITION PROPELS MATANZAS BOYS
In the boys game, newcomer Julius Bullock put the Pirates ahead 1-0 with a rebound shot just over 6 minutes into the game. Bullock, a transfer from Boca Raton Olympic Heights, has been with Matanzas for about two weeks, and he’s had a major role in the Pirates’ recent success, coach Beto Aguilar said.
“The players seem to be jelling well with him, and he's been very dynamic which has been a little bit of a change that we needed,” Aguilar said.
After starting the season 1-3, Matanzas has won three in a row. The Bulldogs (4-3) had their three-game winning streak stopped.
Bullock moved from Palm Coast when he was in the fourth grade and still knew many of his teammates from having played club soccer with them in elementary school.
“He’s fit in great,” forward Nicolas Correa said.
Correa put the Pirates ahead 2-1 with a penalty kick at 21:36 in the second half.
“It was an amazing feeling,” Correa said. “I looked at the keeper and smiled right at him (before Correa's successful shot)."
But less than two minutes later, FPC was awarded a penalty kick, and junior Aron Binkley scored to make it 2-1. The Bulldogs went on the attack the rest of the way, but Matanzas’ defense held up.
“They sent everybody,” Bullock said. “It made things tough on the back line, but I feel like we played well as a team today.”
Aguilar said senior center back Mason Evans has made a big difference, marking the opponents’ best players. Against FPC, Evans defended against Jack Moberly.
“He’s one of those kids that just goes a little above and beyond,” Aguilar said of Evans. “We put him in a position that he wasn’t used to and he’s kind of made it his own.”