FLEMING ISLAND - With a strategy that looked more like the full court press that Fleming Island High basketball coach Traavis Chandler employs on the hardwood floors of the gym, the Fleming Island …
FLEMING ISLAND - With a strategy that looked more like the full court press that Fleming Island High basketball coach Traavis Chandler employs on the hardwood floors of the gym, the Fleming Island High girls soccer team went baseline to baseline with Creekside High to a 3-0 district 3-6A championship win Friday night for the first first of first year coach Joy Rosano’s tenure at the helm.
“Oh yeah, we were going to use that full court press the whole game,” said Rosano. “I knew it was going to be a fast, physical game. We couldn’t get the smooth transitions on them early so we went with keeping the ball on the ground and moving downfield quickly.”
District 1-7A: Oakleaf lost 2-0 to Flagler in the semifinal. Bartram Trail vs. Flagler, Final Tues., Feb. 9
District 3-6A: Fleming Island beat Atlantic Coast, Creekside beat Fletcher, Fleming Island beat Creekside 3-0 in final, Fri., Feb. 5.
District 2-5A: Orange Park beat Westside 8-0 (quarters), Stanton beat Orange Park 8-0, Middleburg beat Lee 8-2, Stanton beat Middleburg 6-0 in final.
District 3-4A: Palatka beat Baker County 2-0; Ridgeview beat Ed White 8-0; Menendez beat Palatka 7-1,
District 4-3A: Newberry beat Willisont 5-1, Keystone Heights beat Interlachen 8-0 (Alyssa Townsend, Kiersten Shaw 3 goals each, Ella Hutchins 2 goals), Crescent City beat Fort White 2-0; P.K. Yonge beat Newberry 8-0, Keystone Heights beat Crescent City 4-1(Kiersten Shaw 2 goals, Shelby Phillips, Shoshona Fernandez 1 goal each), P.K. Yonge vs. Keystone Heights final, at KHHS, Tues., Feb. 5pm.
Note: Kiersten Shaw now has 36 goals; 67 in two years.
District 3-2A: St. Johns Country Day School beat University Christian 8-0; St. Joseph’s Academy beat Christ’s Church 5-0; SJCDS vs. St. Joseph, Final at SJCDS 5:30pm
For the Golden Eagles, who finished regular season play with just two losses (to the pesky Bartram Trail High Lady Bears, the Class 7A defending champions), the win marks Rosano’s first playoff win although her high school days saw her part of a few deep playoff runs under then-coach Darrell Ivey.
“I try to bring that experience to them when I got here and the talent that was here was very capable of championship play,” said Rosano. “I wanted to win the balls in the air, get it on the ground, then run in down the field.”
In the first few minutes of the contest, Creekside maintained possession in front of Fleming Island goalie Mackenzie Kirk, but could not make solid shots on goal while Gianni Gardner broke for her first hard shot of the night near the six minute mark.
At 32:06, Creekside got inside the goal box, but Avery McNelis shot sailed over Kirk’s head.
Just after the shot on goal, Rosano redirected her strategy to the full court defense with defenders Claudia McGough and Maya Dawson harassing Creekside’s ballhandlers at midfield and Rosano’s trying to free up either Gardner or Kennedy Johnson on the Creekside end of the pitch.
“We wanted to make them make mistakes and maybe get a breakaway,” said Rosano.
The strategy seemed fruitful with Fleming Island getting throw-ins from midfield and about 10 yards off the Creekside goal pressuing the Knights’ goalie, Anna Laughlin.
Still at 0-0 at the first half waterbreak; 19:08 to the half, Fleming Island still maintained possession inside the Creekside side of the pitch with Johnson and Dawson both penetrating the Creekside defense for attacks on goal.
Under the direction of Kirk from her goalie vantage point, Fleming Island started issuing close quarters attacks at midfield that proved frustrating to Creekside.
“My job is to watch the ball flow and direct our guys to the attack point,” said Kirk. “I can see the whole field as their push comes toward me.”
Kaitlyn Scherer finally hit paydirt off a corner kick at 14:36 to put Fleming Island on the scoreboard with Scherer hitting an almost identical header off a corner kick a few minutes later that got engulfed in the Creekside defense.
“That second one was a beauty,” said Rosano. “We had good play on our set pieces.”
Creekside’s first moment of frustration at the Rosano defensive pressure was a yellow card to midfielder Lauren Snyder that got a yellow card.
Creekside got their best shot at a freebie with a 40 yard free kick with about two minutes to the half, but the ball sailed right of the Kirk. Creekside also got two late shots before the halftime break only to have Kirk snag the blasts.
Fleming Island got two corner kicks inside the 19 minute mark, but could not finish the set piece.
Just inside the second half, Scherer scored off a goalie rebound of a Dawson free kick from just left of Creekside’s goal about 20 yards away just two minutes into the stanze to put a quick jolt to the Creekside defense.
At 17 minutes, just after the second half water break, again, Fleming Island was opportunistic in front of the goal when Gardner broke down the left side of the Creekside goal and sent a service pass inside the box that Sophia Dawson attempted a twisting shot, but, fortunately, missed only to have Johnson on point to power the goal in for a quick second half blast and a 3-0 lead.