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Blue Devils go big in second for soccer title

Randy Lefko
Sports Editor
Posted 2/7/24

GREEN COVE SPRINGS - Clay High boys soccer coach Wale Leyimu's quick philosophy is almost like a no-snap huddle in football only on the soccer pitch. "We say 'next five minutes' and it means when we …

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Blue Devils go big in second for soccer title


Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS - Clay High boys soccer coach Wale Leyimu's quick philosophy is almost like a no-snap huddle in football only on the soccer pitch.

"We say 'next five minutes' and it means when we have a break in the game; a timeout, an injury, a substitution, whatever, we surge right from the whistle for the next five minutes to try and catch our opponent off guard," said Leyimu, as his Blue Devils captured a first-time district 2-5A championship with a second-half burst and a 2-0 win over visiting Tallahassee Rickards on January 31. "We've been a scrappy team all season; taking some lumps, but never giving in."
Against Rickards, with both teams zooming up and down the pitch for the first half but missing the marks amidst great goalie play on both ends and just-miss shots on the goal frame, Clay regrouped after the halftime break and got two goals; from Aidan Pinnex and one from Louvens Jorssaint; both on breakaway one-on-one with Rickards goalie Adam Kaninda, a formidable 6'-3" target in front of the net.
For Clay, goalie Anthony Fiore registered his second shutout of the district tournament following a 4-0 win over Columbia in the semifinal round.
Clay, now 11-3-3, advances to the region 1-5A playoffs as the lone district champion of the county, but with a long road trip to second seed Booker T. Washington (12-1, 13th ranked USA) in their opener on February 13. On the other end of the bracket, Beachside (8-3-5), the sixth seed who beat Orange Park 2-0 in their semifinal, will travel to Fort Walton Beach (9-8-3). Beachside lost in a penalty kick shootout with Englewood in the district 3-5A championship game after the game ended at 0-0 after two overtimes.
No. 8 seed Lecanto (11-5-1) travels to No. 1 seed Arnold (17-1-1, No. 2 USA, No. 2 in FL), the top seed, and No. 5 Englewood (17-5-0) visits No. 4 Choctawhatchee (11-8-2) in the upper two openers in region 1-5A.
Clay is joined in region 1-2A by No. 6 seed St. Johns Country Day School in at 2A after a 1-0 loss in their district final to Christ's Church Academy and Fleming Island in at 6A after their 1-0 district final loss to Ponte Vedra in district 3-6A.
St. Johns (6-7-1), the No. 6 seed, travels to No. 3 seed Christ's Church Academy (9-8-1) on Tues., February 6, for a rematch in their region opener with No. 7 Harvest Community (4-3-0) headed to No. 2 St. Joseph Academy (6-8-1).
In the upper end of the bracket, top seed Oak Hall (13-0-1) will host No. 8 Community Christian (7-5-1) and No. 4 Bell (10-4-0) will host No. 5 Academy at the Lakes (Land O' Lakes) (11-4-1).
In region 1-6A, Fleming Island (12-6-1) enters as the sixth seed with a road trip to No. 3 Chiles (12-4-1) while No. 7 Nease (9-5-3) heads to No. 2 Gulf Breeze (12-5-1).
In the other end of the region, No. 1 (18-2-1, Ninth ranked USA, 3rd in FL, 1st in 6A) hosts No. 8 Ocala Forest (15-7-2) with No. 4 Buchholz (11-1-3) hosts No. 5 Tate (13-4-1).
Around the county, Oakleaf lost an overtime battle with Nease in the district 3-6A semifinals after closing at 1-1 to end their season at 6-3-3; Keystone Heights lost 9-3 to district 4-3A runnerup Williston (lost 3-1 to No. 1 P.K. Yonge) to finish at 13-3-2; Orange Park lost 2-0 to Beachside in the district 3-5A semifinal to end at 7-6-3; Ridgeview lost 4-1 to Rickards in the district 2-5A opener to finish at 3-9-1 with Middleburg losing to Columbia in their 2-5A opener 2-0 to close at 6-6-3.