This week's crime report for Clay County Florida, provided by the Clay County Sheriff's Office.
DELAND - St. Johns Country Day School’s girls soccer played about as good a game as expected, according to coach Mike Pickett, but several factors and bounces denied the 11-year state title streak …
DELAND - St. Johns Country Day School’s girls soccer played about as good a game as expected, according to coach Mike Pickett, but several factors and bounces denied the 11-year state title streak from becoming 12 and 59 straight playoff wins along the way as the Lady Spartans lost 2-1 in the Class 2A championship game against long-time Final Four rival Lakeland Christian Academy. The win for Lakeland was the first for them in 10 Final Four opportunities against St. Johns. Lakeland moved to Class 3A and had won two straight titles prior to the Wednesday final in Class 2A.
“We had our chances; Sydney Schmidt’s shot that hit the cross bar could have changed the game,” said Pickett, noting also a 25 miles per hour afternoon in Deland. “They had four shots in the game and all were late. Their corner shot was just dumb luck and a lot of wind.”
With game locked at 0-0 with a heavy cross wind being advantagous to a point, the Spartans gave up a corner kick near the 10-minute mark that Lakeland forward Lilly Harrington bent into the far upper corner of the Spartans goal for the first of two quick goals in succession by Harrington. Harrington, just two minutes later, took a feed pass deep in St. Johns territory and created a three-on-one attack on Spartans goalie Roxie Matthews that put Lakeland up 2-0.
“That corner kick was just dumb luck with the wind,” said Pickett. “The second goal was us pushing forward too much and them getting behind us. Roxie made a save, but she put the rebound in.”
After the second goal, near the 35 seconds to go mark, CeCe Nowicki put St. Johns on the scoreboard in a frenzy in front of the Lakeland goal.
“I was most proud that the team kept fighting to the very end,” said Pickett. “That was a life lesson moment for the team that things go wrong quickly and you have to respond.”
With St. Johns coming in as a heavy favorite to get a 12th consecutive title, Lakeland coach Jason Streets, a long-time rival and coaching cohort to Pickett in Florida, executed a game plan that looked a lot like a mirror image of the Spartan game with quick defensive pokes; short, efficient passing downfield, and timely throw-ins that moved possession downfield in 10 yard chunks.
“They just sat in, defended and kicked the ball low to the ground,” said Pickett. “It is a smart way to play us. They made it difficult and we had our looks but we missed some wide open looks that nine out of 10 times, we score on, but not on that day. Unfortunately, in soccer, if you have a 60-40 percent possession advantage, but unless you score, you will probably lose.”
With five seniors, led by Lauryn Mateo, with four state champion rings, Pickett will likely reload; 11 titles in a row, 14 total, and restart the process.
“You are not going to continue to win, it was a ridiculous run,” said Pickett. “The amount of texts asking what happened was crazy. We were a victim of our own success because it was expected all the time. We made a lot of teams in Florida happy with our loss.”
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