In a hard-fought match where shots are sparse and goals are even harder to come by, sometimes one fortuitous bounce is all a team needs.
That was the case for the Lely boys’ soccer team Tuesday in the District 4A-12 semifinals. Thanks to a collision that sent three Naples players to the ground, including the goalkeeper, the Trojans’ Amos Alcy tucked a loose ball in the back of the net with less than a minute to play.
Alcy’s goal was the game’s only score as Lely won 1-0 and advanced to Friday’s championship match against Golden Gate.
Both teams, by virtue of finishing as the district’s top two teams, will play in next week’s regional playoffs.
Golden Gate needed no such luck in its 2-0 victory over Palmetto Ridge in Tuesday’s other semifinal. The two-time defending district champion Titans scored both goals before the first-half water break, which unofficially signifies the midpoint of the period.
Alcy, a sophomore who started the season playing junior varsity, scored Lely’s goal in injury time off a centering pass from Jamie Clark. The Trojans improved to 12-8-1, increasing their school record for wins in a season. It was Alcy’s second goal of the year.
As Clark’s pass floated toward the goal, Naples’ Morgan Leonard and David Maahs jumped to head the ball, while keeper David Main ran out to catch it. All three fell on top of each other — “a beautiful collision,” Lely coach Rob Schank called it — as the ball bounded toward the left goal post.
A wide-open Alcy was there to score on a ball that Naples coach Bryan Kelly said “my grandmother could have scored on.”
“The whole game was tight,” Lely coach Rob Schank said. “It could have been Naples or us in this match. We knew it was going to be a 1-0 game because Naples has probably by far the best defense in Collier County.”
It was their offense, however, that haunted the Golden Eagles (5-7-5) in a season of ups and downs. Naples scored just one goal in its first seven matches, then had 15 in its next seven. After the holiday break, the Eagles reverted to their old ways while dropping three straight to end the season.
“It was an extremely evenly-matched game where both teams fought really hard,” Kelly said. “Unfortunately it came down to a really crazy, flukey goal.”
Golden Gate (16-3-1) got goals from Kelvin Orellana and Sergio Ramirez in the Titans’ third victory over Palmetto Ridge (6-11-3) this season.
Senior goalie Vidal Segura earned his eight shutout for a Golden Gate defense that has allowed just 14 goals in 20 games.
“I’m happy that we won the game, but the way we won I’m not too pleased with,” Titans coach Dwight Morgan said. “We played in cruise control the whole game. We didn’t take advantage of all our chances.”
The Titans again played without Damian Coliqueo, the school’s all-time leading scorer. Coliqueo, a senior, is serving an FHSAA suspension for receiving his second red card of the year two weeks ago. Morgan said he hopes to have Coliqueo back for Friday’s match.
Friday’s championship will be a rematch of last year’s 4A-12 title contest in which Golden Gate beat the Trojans. The Titans went on to advance to the regional semifinals, while Lely lost their first game of the state tournament.