PALM COAST — Flagler County loves its lacrosse.
After Mother Nature decided to provide a bit of sunshine on Flagler County, both area lacrosse teams went to battle last week in district games.
Matanzas outpaced FPC in the girls game, 9-6.
In the boys game on Saturday, Flagler Palm Coast managed a third-quarter comeback to knock off Matanzas, 14-12.
Lady Pirates hold off FPC for district win
The last three meetings between Flagler Palm Coast and Matanzas have been decided by a total of three goals. FPC won one, Matanzas won two — including last year’s district championship.
Thursday’s game, a back-and-forth affair, was no different. Ultimately, Matanzas prevailed.
The Lady Pirates took an 8-4 lead early in the second half, but FPC’s Liz Salinsky did all she could to will her team to victory.
Salinsky scored all six of FPC’s goals, including bringing FPC to within two with about a minute to go. But Matanzas’ Kristie Albano scored her second goal of the game with about 30 seconds left to secure the win for the Lady Pirates.
“All of our games are that close — they’re nail-biters,” Matanzas coach Anna Stewart said.
FPC coach James Hackett agreed: “They’re classics. We should film them and put them on TV.”
With the win, Stewart said, the Matanzas girls lacrosse program continues to grow.
“When I used to coach (at FPC), we used to roll right over (Matanzas),” Stewart said. “It’s like Matanzas is finally grown up and taking over some of the winning. So I think that’s what adds fuel to the fire. FPC was used to winning the series so easily for so many years.”
The Lady Bulldogs lost 13 seniors from last year’s team. Most of this year’s team features many sophomores and three seniors. Hackett said games at this point in the schedule are to help his team get better for districts.
“All these games are get-better games,” Hackett said.
Sara Komanowski (three goals), Toni DeSantis (two goals), Katie Winters (one goal) and Bailee Hurd (one goal) accounted for the rest of Matanzas’ goals.
Kelly Kastner, one of FPC’s top players, missed the game against Matanzas because of a knee injury. Hackett said it was diagnosed as a strain, and Kastner is expected to resume playing while wearing a knee brace.
Bulldogs rally in third quarter, top Matanzas
Last year was a down year for the Flagler Palm Coast boys lacrosse team. The Bulldogs didn’t compile many wins and were swept by Matanzas during the regular season.
That changed on Saturday, when the Bulldogs rallied to knock off Matanzas, 14-12, in the first of two regular season meetings.
“It’s the first win of the season, and we lost to Matanzas twice last year,” FPC coach Ryan Andrews said of his team’s post-game excitement. “I think that’s why they’re pretty pumped up. It definitely gives us a lot of confidence.”
The Pirates led early and often, taking a 6-4 lead into halftime. But the Bulldogs fired off for seven goals in the third quarter, taking an 11-10 lead heading into the final 12 minutes.
FPC was able to maintain possession to secure the win as the clocked ticked down.
“We’re going at it this season with a one-game-at-a-time mentality,” Andrews said. “We only graduated three players last year. A lot of people underestimate us with the talent we have.”
Matanzas coach Jeff Goren said FPC “dominated” his team in the ground ball game, adding that often, the team that wins the ground ball game wins the overall game.
Goren took responsibility after the game, stating that he didn’t have his team prepared offensively.
“We had some good looks, some good chances, but we just didn’t finish the ball like we needed to,” he said. “We have work to do on offense. We have a very, very talented group of offensive players. Right now, it’s on me to get them in the right spots. The blame for this loss was on me because we weren’t prepared enough.”
The Bulldogs got their scoring from a variety of players: Jon Zelaskowski (four goals), Mike Fore (four goals), Adison Felton (three goals) all had hat tricks. Paul Pechmann added a goal.
Kurt Brock tallied 18 saves for FPC.
Matanzas was led by Jake Cohill, who scored three goals before sustaining a celebration-related ankle injury in the third quarter. James Mayer, Colten Buxman, Christian Wilson and Kristian Kane all scored two goals. Gunner Parson added one goal.
Matt Gutierrez had 23 saves in cage for Matanzas.
Jake Cohill out for two weeks
Sophomore midfielder Jake Cohill is expected to miss at least two weeks with an ankle injury he suffered while celebrating a Matanzas goal during the third quarter of Thursday’s game, coach Jeff Goren said Monday.
There will be a void on the field with Cohill out.
“Jake is an excellent midfielder,” Goren said. “He is able to play both sides of the ball — offense and defense. He has speed and a great lacrosse IQ.”
Cohill has scored three goals in each of Matanzas’ first three games. He had already scored three against FPC before getting hurt. But it’s not just Cohill’s scoring ability that makes him so lethal, Goren said.
“With Jake in the game, we know we have somebody on the field who will be able to beat his defender and give us a great opportunity to score—whether it’s Jake taking the shot or Jake drawing a sliding defender and passing the ball to the open man,” Goren said.
With Cohill out, Goren expects to see midfielders Kristian Kane and John O’connor fill the void.
Liz Salinksy steps up as a senior
Senior midfielder Liz Salinsky did everything she could to help lead her Lady Bulldogs to a win last week against Matanzas, scoring all six of the team’s goals.
“She’s a senior, and she’s playing like a senior,” FPC coach James Hackett said. “She has stepped up her game.”
Last year, as a junior, Salinsky was hidden in the shadows of a talented, senior-laden Lady Bulldogs squad. Not this year, though. She’s one of three seniors on FPC’s roster. And she knows she needs to take control.
“As a senior and an experienced player in general, leadership going into this season was huge,” Salinsky said. “I have to consider all of my actions on and off the field.”
Salinsky is a captain for the Lady Bulldogs, and that’s something she takes personally.
“It changes my whole perspective as a player,” she said. “There are a lot of new girls, which pushes me as a player to help lead the team.”
Comparing this season to last, Hackett said Salinsky’s maturity has improved the most.
“She’s the top dog,” he said.