The Pirates had gone six straight games without a loss entering the match.
Coach Jon Kinsler and his Seabreeze boys soccer players believe they are better than their record indicates.
The Sandcrabs improved to 5-3-1 with a 2-0 victory at Matanzas on Jan. 6. But that record is a bit deceptive.
The three teams that beat them – Ponte Vedra, New Smyrna Beach and Spruce Creek – had a 33-3-5 combined mark as of Jan. 6. Spruce Creek is the FHSAA’s top-ranked team in the state across all classifications, while New Smyrna Beach is No. 7.
But that doesn’t mean the Sandcrabs were satisfied.
“We were competitive but not necessarily winning, so we did some system changes,” Kinsler said after the Matanzas win.
“If we make that penalty kick, that changes the momentum. Seabreeze capitalized on our mistakes.”
BETO AGUILAR, Matanzas coach
The changes seemed to work. They got on the board with a goal by freshman Drew McNerney with 5:05 left in the first half. Junior Michael Hogan made it 2-0 just over a minute into the second half.
“We created more in the attack, and we still didn’t concede a goal,” Kinsler said. “The midfielders were very good, and our defense made the difference.”
Matanzas (6-3-1) saw its six-game unbeaten streak get snapped. After Seabreeze dominated possession in the first half, the Pirates put together some scoring opportunities in the second half but came up short.
Seabreeze goalkeeper Andrew Cole stopped a penalty kick by Diego Bernardi with 36:20 left.
“If we make that penalty kick, that changes the momentum,” Matanzas coach Beto Aguilar said. “Seabreeze capitalized on our mistakes.”
Frazer Cross set up the first goal, passing to McNerney on the left wing.
“He made a nice cross,” McNerney said. “The keeper (Ben Kopach) made a decent save, but it stayed in bounds, and I just finished.”
Hogan made a spectacular goal with 38:46 remaining, spinning off a defender, and drilling a shot to the right side of the net past Kopach.
“Ben used to be my old teammate (in club soccer),” Hogan said. “I took it right at him and scored. I don’t think I ever scored on him before.”
“He’s someone we depend on for everything. He definitely attracts a lot of attention.”
JON KINSLER, Seabreeze coach on midfielder Michael Hogan
“You can’t give Hogan any slack,” said Aguilar. “He’ll put you to sleep.”
Kinsler said Hogan, who nearly scored a second goal, was the difference maker in the game.
“He’s someone we depend on for everything,” Kinsler said. “He definitely attracts a lot of attention.”
Both teams were playing their first game in three weeks. Aguilar said his players appeared to be rusty in the first half.
“In the first half, we weren’t as aggressive as Seabreeze was,” he said.
Aguilar said he was pleased that his squad kept fighting and praised the play of freshman left back Vince Ferrer.
“He was consistent,” Aguilar said. “He pretty much shut down his side.”
“I think Matanzas has some very talented players,” Kinsler said. “And our guys were up for the task tonight.”