Girls soccer: Academy of the Holy Names 1, Land O'Lakes 0
Two of the area’s top girls soccer programs squared off at Land O’ Lakes High on Monday. The same two programs faced off last year and Academy of the Holy Names handed the Gators a 3-0 defeat, one of only two losses they endured all the way to the state finals.
Coming into Monday’s match, the Gators were undefeated and the Jaguars had two losses to teams ranked in the top 10 in the state by MaxPreps. It was a match to see which team could shut down the opponent’s top scoring threat. USF commit Sydny Nasello came into the match with 16 goals and North Florida commit Hannah Menendez came in with 20.
Both back lines played well but the combination of Sophia Tremonti, Julia Petrillo and Ellie Abdoney for AHN (11-2-1) managed to limit the opportunities for Nasello. Claire Obeck broke through for the lone goal of the match and a 1-0 win over the Gators (13-1-1).
“We knew she (Nasello) was going to be their main scoring threat, so we wanted to have not just one defender on her, we wanted another defender behind her because she can pass too,” AHN coach Kareem Escayg said. “We did great under pressure to preserve that 1-0 lead and we did the little things that matter; that’s why we held.”
Obeck made her presence felt early, breaking away on a fast break in the opening minutes but a save by keeper Haley Terwilliger kept the ball out of the net. Terwilliger was starting in place of injured keeper Hannah Young and had three saves on the night.
Again, 19 minutes into the match, Obeck got loose on a fast break but Avery Wild shut it down with a boot out of bounds. The Gators pushed back only to have Devyn Cabral’s shot saved by AHN keeper Kendall Catone (four saves on the night). Then Nasello got a header off a long ball that set up a one-on-one with Cabral and Catone, but Catone gobbled it up and reset the Jaguar offense. Menendez nearly had her 21st goal in the waning moments of the first half but the ball sailed just high.
The Jaguars ramped up the pressure in the second half. Haley Eckel broke up a fast break but AHN was right back on top of the Gators as Obeck took a deep throw-in from just inside the Gator 18-yard box, shook one defender and slammed the ball near post into the hands of Terwilliger but the ball squirted through into the net.
AHN went into defense mode and Land O’Lakes to an all-out on the attack for the final 20 minutes. Nasello had two headers that nearly fell, Ashley Doers had a close shot but missed wide. The Jags nearly had another goal with nine minutes to play, the ball bouncing off three heads right at the Gator goal line but Land O’Lakes was able to clear it.
Brooke Hannigan got a big stop to flip the field and it was an furious push down the stretch. Finally, Grace Orama got her head on a Gator free kick that was headed for goal, deflecting it outside the 18-yard box and the Jaguars were able to wind it down and get the win.
“The girls have an expectation, a level they want to attain and also maintain,” Escayg said. “Land O’ Lakes is a measuring stick for us.”