The Bulldogs were shutout for the first time this season.
As the game wore on and the fatigue set in, the mistakes began to pile up. With 3:16 remaining in the first half, the Bulldogs gave up an easy, wide open goal to Spruce Creek freshman Emily Stout, who had never scored in a high school game until then. One Bulldogs freshman threw the ball out of bounds three times on what would normally be a routine throw-in.
And then, the back-breaker.
Down 1-0 with 10:51 to go in the game, while the Bulldogs were trying to set up a wall before a free kick, the Hawks’ Ally Runge was able to get off a quick kick before the defense could set. The ball found the left corner of the net to ice the game.
“We were being lazy,” Bulldogs coach Pete Hald. “The quick kick is a cardinal sin in soccer. It’s our fault. We blew that.”
Despite holding the Hawks’ all-time leading goal scorer, Jordan Di Verniero, scoreless across 80 minutes, Flagler Palm Coast (5-1-1) was defeated by district rival Spruce Creek 2-0 on the night of Monday, Nov. 20, at Spruce Creek High School’s Pop Johnson Field. The Bulldogs had outscored their previous six opponents 25-3.
“I don’t think we played our best,” Hald said. “We’ve got a better game to play. We’ve got a better game in us. And maybe, this is what we needed, too. We were in the game until that free kick. We’ve just got to fix our mistakes. It’ll be a good one the next time we play them.”
Along with University High School, Spruce Creek (6-0) is one of FPC’s top rivals in the district. Another loss to the Hawks could prove deadly to the Bulldogs’ chances at making a run at the district title. Last season, Spruce Creek walked away with those honors.
FPC has its second game against the Hawks on Jan. 9 at home.
“Good thing we play twice,” Hald said. “We both beat University once already. University’s got a good side. They could beat us. They could tie one of us. Anything can happen. So obviously, we need to get to those two games and hopefully we can beat both of them and give ourselves a chance to be the No. 1 seed. It’s huge just because of home-field advantage.”
However, Hald said he doesn’t think Monday night’s loss is indicative of how the rest of the season will play out.
“We play a lot of games,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of teams tougher than them. We play a tough schedule to prepare us for what’s important. We’ve got plenty of games to get better.”