Region soccer: Osceola 7, Jefferson 0
SEMINOLE — With Osceola being a region tournament regular and Jefferson making the school’s first ever appearance, Thursday night’s Class 3A quarterfinal figured to be lopsided. While the Warriors eventually won 7-0, five of those goals came in the final 20 minutes when the Dragons' defense finally wore out.
Osceola (22-2) will host Largo in Tuesday’s region semifinal. That game will be a rematch of last week’s district final, which the Warriors won 3-2. Jefferson ends its season 3-6-3.
The Warriors outshot Jefferson 42-0. Dragons’ goalkeeper Arazmin Jimenez recorded 14 saves and held up to Osceola’s barrage of shots for most of the match. However, Jefferson had no answer for Rachel Dirks, who scored five goals.
“Our touch was off and we were hitting it to the keeper quite a bit,’’ Osceola coach Steve Kuplicki said. “Sometimes you have games like that and it is a bit frustrating. But we did possess well and control the pace of the game.’’
In the first half, Osceola had little trouble getting off shots. Putting the ball in the net proved more difficult. Just four minutes into the match, Dirks took a pass just outside the 18-yard box and dribbled 10 yards from net. Her shot beat Jimenez for a 1-0 lead.
It looked as if the goals would keep coming, but errant shots, nice saves by Jimenez and the defense of sweeper Princess Bowen keep Osceola off the board until the 16th minute. That’s when Dirks scored again, this time on a pass from Leah Pecora 15 yards from goal.
The score remained 2-0 at halftime. Osceola outshot Jefferson 21-0.
The second half was more of the same. The Warriors would string passes together heading to goal, but the final shot was either off target or in the arms of Jimenez. After 10 shots with no results, that finally changed in the 62nd minute. Dirks settled a ball in the 18-yard box, turned and dribbled a right-footer just past Jimenez to make it 3-0.
Someone other than Dirks finally got into the act in the 66th minute. Sophia Masut took a shot that bounced off Jimenez’s hands. Jamison Lake was there to clean up the rebound for a 4-0 lead.
Things went back to normal in the 70th minute when Dirks blew by two defenders from 40 yards out and blasted a right-footer into the upper left corner. She scored again in the 72nd minute on a left-footer from 10 yards before being taken out of the game.
The final goal came in the 76th minute when Taylor Stone lofted a shot over Jimenez.
“You still have to feel good about the way we played,’’ Kuplicki said. “We didn’t give them any chances, and (Jefferson) played hard. They played nine in the box quite a bit so you have to find the spaces. We eventually found those spaces.’’
Jefferson coach Gwen Martin was proud of her team’s effort.
“We did well considering what we thought we were getting into,’’ she said.