VALRICO — Roughly 90 miles separated Abby Meckley’s goals Tuesday but her strike after nightfall provided a happier outcome.
Meckley’s far-post effort proved the lone tally as Plant wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the 5A-7 tournament, defeating host Bloomingdale 1-0 on Senior Night.
“Getting the No. 1 seed was really important to us,” Meckley said. “We wanted the easiest path to the finals.”
The win means the Panthers (14-1) will have a first-round bye and need to win just one match to reach the final and guarantee a postseason berth. Newsome, which Plant defeated 1-0 on Nov. 7, will have the No. 2 seed.
“We worked really hard to get that win at Newsome,” first-year Plant coach Pam Smith said. “We have some room to improve but this is a very talented team.”
Against the Bulls Jayne Hagan won a ball about 30 yards from goal and knocked it on to Meckley, who was playing her second match of the day after competing earlier Tuesday morning in Orlando at the Disney Showcase, a prestigious club tournament. Meckley, who also scored in a 2-1 loss at that tournament, then found herself one-on-one with the keeper and the senior midfielder buried the winner one minute before halftime.
The match was predominantly played in the midfield with chances few on both sides. Bloomingdale’s Elyse Fontecchio sailed a pair of shots high over the crossbar in the first half and her clever back heel found Eliana Clemmer deep in the Plant box during the 65th minute, but the Bulls (8-3-1) couldn’t capitalize.