After 80 minutes of dominating Deltona in the District 6-3A semifinals on Wednesday night, Matanzas coach Tony Benvenuto sent his team back out on the field for post-game sprints. After about 15 minutes of added conditioning, the Lady Pirates were going to practice penalty kicks.
Benvenuto wasn’t frustrated or mad or anything. Actually, it was quite the opposite, he said after his team knocked off Deltona, 6-0, to advance to its first district title game since the program’s first season.
For Friday’s championship game and the state playoffs, if a game is tied after 80 minutes, teams will play an additional 20 minutes of extra time. If they’re still tied after that, the game goes to penalty kicks.
“I want my girls to be in that situation to take penalties when they’re tired,” Benvenuto said. “We could take all the penalties we want in practice, but it’s different when you’re tired.”
And so there Matanzas (20-2-2) was, taking penalties long after the stands cleared out.
The Lady Pirates dominated the game from the start.
In the 11th minute, freshman Miracle Porter netted her first of four goals when she took on two defenders, slid the ball to her left foot and then slotted it to give Matanzas a 1-0 lead.
Then, with about four minutes to play in the first half, Stephanie Tolson whipped in a dangerous corner. Porter hit a one-time volley out of the air to push Matanzas’ lead to 2-0.
In between goals, Matanzas had chance after chance. Deltona rarely possessed the ball on the Lady Pirates' side of the field.
Bailey Pickering gave her side a 3-0 lead with 10 seconds left in the first half after she took off on a 25-yard solo run and ripped a 15-yard shot that was too much for Deltona’s keeper.
Leana Ballschmieder scored Matanzas’ fourth goal with 18:25 left in the game, and Porter scored Matanzas’ fifth and sixth goals — both with less than 10 minutes to play.
Porter has found the net 59 times this season. She continues to lead all area scorers.
Matanzas will host Seabreeze at 7 p.m. Friday, in the District 6-3A championship game. Seabreeze knocked off Edgewater, 2-0, in the other semifinal game. Regardless of what happens Friday, both teams will advance to the state playoffs.
In two games during the regular season, Matanzas won 3-2 (at Seabreeze) and the teams tied 0-0 (at Matanzas).
Matanzas has suffered injuries to many players (Gabbi Paiz, Abby Barker, Savannah Tyler), but Benvenuto said the team that was on the field Wednesday night are the players that have gotten the team to the district finals.
“By now, forget about injuries,” he said. “This is the team that has really carried us most of the year. We’re going to go with them. Win or lose, this is the team that has gotten us to 20 wins. These are the players.”