ST. PETERSBURG — Coming off Thanksgiving break, St. Petersburg looked a little rusty against Northeast and Sarasota Riverview, in the estimation of coach Rui Farias. Tuesday night, the Green Devils returned to form in a 5-0 win over Dixie Hollins.
After a slow start, St. Petersburg scored two first-half goals within a minute of each other and added three more in the second half to pull away.
“Prior to the Northeast game we were really rolling,” Farias said. “I hate it when we get into the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. Kids go off and play club games, and when they come back it’s like starting over again.”
Both teams spent much of the first half trying to find scoring opportunities. Dixie Hollins (4-3-1) had the first real chance when John Bodrog had a point-blank shot from 10 yards in the 35th minute. But the shot went right to a perfectly positioned Jack McCoy for the save.
McCoy, the Green Devils’ reserve goalkeeper, is likely to be the starter most of the season after Sean Covington partially tore his labrum in the final football game of the season. He has not played in goal. Covington has, however, played minutes at midfield for the Green Devils (3-2-1).
Covington had a hand in the first goal in the 37th minute. His throw-in from the right sideline crossed about 10 yards in front of the Rebels’ net. Jake Moore ran on to head the ball past keeper Klaudio Ikonomi and into the right corner.
Less than a minute later, Steven Svoboda cleaned up a loose ball just inside the 18-yard box by nailing a falling-down left-footer that also skidded into the right corner.
“It was a little rough in the beginning,” Farias said. “We didn’t do a lot of good combination work. But we settled down and started knocking the ball around. We were getting behind them so it was just a matter of time.”
With the Rebels’ offense held in check, the Green Devils attacked in the second half. Clarke Jacobson made it 3-0 when he converted a header on a nicely placed cross by sophomore Martin Gaganelov.
Gaganelov made another perfect cross minutes later that Junior Francis converted from about 5 yards. Gaganelov got into the scoring act on the final goal by drilling a through ball pass from Francis.
“They were just a little faster than us,” Dixie Hollins coach Chris Griffin said. “I thought we stayed with them for most of the game, but they got behind us a few times.”