District soccer: Sickles, Mitchell move on with ease
TAMPA — The rematch for the Class 4A, District 8 title is set as host Sickles (9-4-1) downed Freedom (5-6-2) 4-0, and top-seeded Mitchell (16-1-0) bested fourth-seeded Hillsborough (5-7-0) 4-0 on Wednesday.
“I think (the rematch) is going to be awesome,” Sickles coach George Arroyo said. “This will be our second year going to regionals and Mitchell is a good team. We’re looking forward to it.”
In the nightcap, the forward tandem of Stephanie Linton and Jordan Kersey combined for a goal within the first two minutes of the match. Kersey, on a run down the left side, took the ball all the way in to Freedom keeper Grace Alexandrow, bounced it off her to the far post where a waiting Linton got the tap in. The Patriots nearly had the equalizer with 11 minutes left in the first half, when Carly McCoy saved a ball heading out of bounds, worked into the 18-yard box and won a corner kick that deflected off of Sickles keeper Alina Ramos but Ramos gobbled up the deflection.
Both center backs had solid games. Sickles’ Ale Atenza and Freedom’s Kelsey Skendziel stopped several runs and kept the game a hotly-contested affair for the first half. In the second half, just two minutes in, Megan Mulroe got a straight on shot at the goal but it nailed the cross bar only to land back at her feet.
“I was annoyed that I missed but it came back to me in a hurry,” Mulroe said. “I knew there was congestion in the area, so I wanted to get it out as quickly as possible.”
Mulroe went low to the far post and made it 2-0. Eleven minutes later, Mulroe assisted Kersey, setting up a point-blank shot on goal but Alexandrow made another nice save, one of the six she tallied in the match. Just before the water break, Atenza took a free kick from just outisde the Patriot 18 and pushed it into the opposite corner for a 3-0 margin.
“Kudos to Freedom; they fought hard,” Arroyo said. “I knew they would fight like this, I think it surprised some of my girls.”
Surprised but not enough to yield any ground as Linton capped the scoring on the night with a 20-yard power shot from dead center.
In the early game, the Mustangs got into a rhythm after the first 10 minutes as Kendra Hoffman assisted Sabrina Wagner for a 1-0 lead. With 16 minutes left in the first half, Hoffman put a second goal in the net, from a free kick just outside the 18. Minutes later, Brianna Wiik played a cross going out of bounds, just along the base line and found Alise Singletary on the other end for a 3-0 lead heading into the half.
The Mustangs made several substitutions for the second half and Emilie Pursel hit a chip shot that sailed over Hillsborough keeper Brianna Joseph, who otherwise had a solid game with 14 saves.