LARGO — At the start of the season, Largo coach Dan Flynn aimed for the state final four.
The Packers played as many tough teams in Pinellas County as possible. And after winning the district and surviving two playoff games, Largo reached its first region final since 1997, on the brink of its first state semifinal since 1986.
But Merritt Island, a program with five final four appearances in the past 13 seasons, proved to have too much experience, defeating Largo 3-0 on Friday in the Class 3A region final.
“Merritt Island is an excellent soccer, easily the best we’ve played all year,” Flynn said. “Their coach told me before the game they have 18 players who are on club teams. We’re not there yet. I could tell about midway through the first half that this one was going to be awfully tough for us.”
A steady mist turned into fog, which could have worked to Largo’s advantage with the wet field neutralizing some of Merritt Island’s speed.
But the Packers missed midfielder Morgan Power, who sprained her ankle and knee in Tuesday’s semifinal win over Robinson.
The Mustangs quickly adapted, scoring once in the first half and twice in the second.
Afterward, the Packers were hardly devastated. Most smiled, issued high-fives and took pictures together. They can take solace in knowing they have a future together with only four of 19 players on the roster graduating.
“I told the girls at the beginning of the season that we make it far in the playoffs,” Flynn said. “They kind of hemmed and hawed but after while they started believing it. We’re getting there, and hopefully we can continue what we’ve started next year.”