ORANGE PARK — Springstead’s stellar season came to an end Friday in the Class 4A state semifinals.
Fleming Island, with only one blemish on its schedule, easily defeated the Eagles 4-0.
After a 31/2-hour drive to the match, Springstead (19-3) refused to let the trip be an excuse for bad play.
“We got up (to the field) in plenty of time to get warmed up,” Springstead coach Sal Calabrese said. “They were fine. It was just hard to compete with the size of their team.”
Fleming Island (22-1) bombarded the Eagles with an early first-half assault, scoring quickly and often in the first 40 minutes. All four goals for the home team were scored in that time.
Fleming Island attacked mainly over the top of the field, utilizing its advantage in size and depth. Most of the team’s more than 20 shots were by headers. Springstead keeper Jordan Leathers was forced to make 10 saves in addition to the scoring opportunities Fleming Island converted.
“We managed to stick with them in the second half,” Calabrese said, “but their defense was tough and we only ended up with a couple shots on goal ourselves.”
Despite the loss, Springstead’s players didn’t focus on the negative. After the team’s second district title in the past 20 years and the second-most wins in school history, the Eagles spent the ride home dwelling on the pride of their achievements.
“As far as the mood at the end of the match, they were pretty down at first, but that didn’t last long,” Calabrese said. “Like most teenagers, they got over it quickly.”