It’s become a bit of a routine: Flagler Palm Coast is headed to the district championship game for the 12th straight year after routing DeLand, 9-1, on Tuesday night behind Christen Barney’s three-goal performance.
The Lady Bulldogs (15-6-4) will host University (No. 3 seed) at 7 p.m. Friday in a rematch of last year’s final. (Regardless of what happens Friday, FPC secured a state playoff berth with Tuesday's win.) Last year, FPC scored with 10 seconds left on the clock to tie the game and then went on to win in extra time.
FPC has made the district finals 12 straight times and 17 of coach Pete Hald’s 23 seasons. The Lady Bulldogs have won five titles (1999, 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2013).
“That’s been a good thing,” he said. “We’ve always been — for the last 12 years, at least — always been one of the top programs in the area. I’m not saying the best.”
The Lady Bulldogs dominated the early part of Tuesday’s game.
FPC took a 1-0 lead in the 19th minute when Bella Giuliano found Christen Barney, who roofed the shot into the top of the net.
In the 27th minute, DeLand — using the counterattack — drew even when forward Sarah Jeffreys got in behind FPC’s defense, scooped the ball past the keeper and slotted home the equalizing goal.
Barney netted two goals in a 60-second span to give FPC a 3-1 lead. The first came on a 20-yard strike and the second came when Barney and Taylor Gould linked up for combination play inside the box. Barney tucked away the goal with 2:16 to play in the half.
Hald praised Barney’s over the final 10 minutes in the first half that propelled the Lady Bulldogs to a 3-1 lead heading into the break.
After the game, Barney said she was pumped up after DeLand tied it. She told the team they needed to step up.
“I just got the team together and told them that we needed to get our stuff together because we can’t win a district championship if we don’t get past this game,” Barney said. “I think that motivated everybody and we calmed down and played our game.”
The second half was all FPC, as the Lady Bulldogs scored six goals. Tanagna Payne, Noelle O'Connor, Josie Davis, Emily Turner, Madi Hald and Ashley Friedman each netted a goal in the second half.
Friedman’s goal came from the top of the 18-yard box with about 10 minutes to go to end the game via the mercy rule.
Click HERE for a photo gallery from tonight's game.