Barron Collier wasted no time on Friday proving to up-and-coming Lely that the Cougars are still kings — or maybe queens — of the local girls soccer mountain.
The teams played two contentious regular season matches before meeting in the Class 4A-District 12 championship last Friday. Barron scored three times in the first 12 minutes, though, to win its sixth straight district title in a 3-0 victory.
“Our warm-ups were lacking, and we were coming out flat,” Cougars coach Ray Morgan said. “It was on me to make sure we came out strong. We had more than an hour of warm-up, and we did everything we needed to do to make sure the adrenaline was pumping and we were ready to go right from the start.”
The Cougars (16-3-3) won the district championship for the 10th time in 12 seasons under Morgan. Barron Collier makes its 11th straight trip to the state playoffs in tomorrow’s regional quarterfinals.
Barron Collier will host 4A-11 runner-up Fort Myers, while Lely (15-4-3) travels to the 4A-11 champ Cape Coral-Baker. Both games are at 7 p.m.
It was just the second time Lely had even played for a championship, losing in 2006 to Naples. Thursday’s regional match will be only the second in program history.
The Cougars looked like the more playoff-tested squad from the start. Barron Collier got behind the Lely defense twice in the first seven minutes and got goals from Katie Nunner and Sam Gomes, off great passes by Marissa Stovring.
Less than five minutes after the Cougars took a 2-0 lead, Barron’s Tessa Paisan got the ball in the left side of the penalty box. She kicked it to the right of Trojan’s goalie Beatriz Reza, and the ball hit off the post before rolling into the net.
“That was our game plan,” Cougars senior Kelly Moore said of the fast start. “We came out to win with the intensity and drive that we needed.”
Barron Collier’s defense dominated the rest of the way, as the Cougars held Lely scoreless for the first time in their three matches this season.
Lely’s top scorer, Ciera Abundez, who has 37 goals on the season, had but one scoring chance as the Cougars hounded her and Lely’s other top scorer, Amanda Lopez.
“We came in flat like we did all year … and they came out on fire,” Lely coach Mark Lopez said. “They put the three goals in and after that it was an uphill battle.”
Barron Collier dominated this year’s district tournament, winning three games by a combined score of 15-1. Going into the championship game Lely had outscored its opponents, 10-0.
Lely will be looking to regroup in the regional round. The Trojans’ only other trip to the state playoffs came in 2006 when they lost to Cypress Lake.
Barron Collier went to the regional finals last season before falling to Bradenton-Lakewood Ranch. The Cougars are 9-1 in the regional quarterfinals during their current playoff streak and have won five straight first-round games.
The Lely boys (6-11-6), closing out the regular season on Friday, edged Gulf Coast, 2-1. 1
Lely coach Rob Schenk said his key players were Miguel Arroyo, Eduardo Reza and Lazaro Martinez. Goal scorers were Ritchy Absolu and Jean Honorat.
Schenk said, “The boys played well tonight. Being senior night, the team stepped up and earned the win.”
Roger LaLonde, staff writer, provided additional information in the story.