The Bulldogs scored the game's lone goal on a penalty kick in the second half.
For the first 52 minutes of Matanzas and Flagler Palm Coast’s boys soccer game on the night of Friday, Jan. 19, both teams battled — with neither team striking a blow.
The Bulldogs finally got an opportunity at the 28-minute mark of the second half. After a throw-in by the Bulldogs, a Matanzas player touched the ball with his hand inside the Pirates’ own box. The Bulldogs were awarded a penalty kick as a result.
FPC coach Troy Stone called up senior team captain Will Patin to take the shot.
The most difficult part of the kick to overcome was the crowd noise. The fans that lined Matanzas High School's bleachers were loud and energetic. Patin had to calm his mind before the kick.
“I had to get them out of my head,” he said. “I just had to focus on the ball.”
Patin always favors the right side of the goal on penalty kicks. However, an odd feeling crept over him as he stared down the Pirates’ standout goal keeper, Brandt Herron.
Patin slammed the ball toward the upper left side of the net. Herron dove right.
And despite several close attempts by the Pirates, it was the only goal of the game as the Bulldogs held on for the first win over their rival since Dec. 4, 2012.
“It’s not really a rivalry if one team keeps winning year in and year out,” Stone said. “We kind of had to hold on for our dear lives. This team has had to battle all year long. The results haven’t always gone our way, but I can’t ever fault their effort — especially from our senior class.”
The Bulldogs prepared for Friday night’s game by watching video clips of past losses to the Pirates. They watched clips of four games where the Pirates scored in the last 3 minutes to win.
“It really motivated us to get out here and do our jobs,” Patin said.
The player who held the win together, though — when the Pirates would penetrate through FPC’s back line and attempt a potentially equalizing shot — was Bulldogs goal keeper Stephen Usina.
The sophomore stopped several would-be goals in the game’s closing minutes.
“It’s just insane how good he is. I take zero credit for his skills. He came to me like that,” Stone joked. “He makes hard saves look relatively easy because of his positioning, and he goes out and makes crazy good saves, too.”
In addition, Pirates head coach Rich Weber was unhappy with the loss but thinks his team will be ready come playoff time.
“This will help us grow," he said. "FPC played a good game. Got to give them credit.”