FPC held on to win 2-1 on Monday, Jan. 7.
The last time the Bulldogs’ girls soccer team faced the Pirates, it was a no-contest. Five games into the 2018-19 regular season, the Bulldogs steamrolled their crosstown rival 5-1 on Nov. 26 at Flagler Palm Coast High School.
So when the Bulldogs took the field at Matanzas High School on Monday, Jan. 7, for the final matchup between the two teams this season, they were complacent.
“We just thought we’d come in here and win,” sophomore forward Taylor Murphy said. “We just didn’t finish our opportunities.”
The opportunities were plentiful for the Bulldogs in the first half. But, for whatever reason, they couldn’t find a way to put a ball past Matanzas’ goal keeper. And with 6:13 left to play in the first half, Pirates team captain Alyssia Paiz ripped a ball from well outside the box to give Matanzas a 1-0 lead.
“I think the pressure that we could possibly lose got to us,” Murphy said. “That’s when we started to put more pressure on them.”
The Bulldogs rallied in the second half. Murphy scored to even the game at the 28:42 mark, and 42 seconds later, a pass by FPC’s Brielle Landry ricocheted off a Pirates defender and into Matanzas’ own goal.
The Bulldogs held on for the remainder of the game to escape with a 2-1 win. It was FPC’s 11th win of the season, but Bulldogs coach Pete Hald remained frustrated after the game.
“We’re having a hard time finishing. We’re going to have a hard time winning the games that really matter if we don’t learn how to finish,” he said. “The girls wanted to come here and dominate, and we just didn’t tonight.”
And although Pirates coach Pawel Slusarz was pleased with his team’s effort against one of the area’s most dominant teams, he didn’t see the Pirates’ performance as a “moral victory.”
“If you’re up in a game, you want to bring it to the end,” he said. “But I’m pleased with what we’ve shown. This is a totally different team. They fought hard.”