The Marco Island Charter Middle School girls soccer team needed to be focused to have a chance of winning its opening Collier County Public Schools game against Manatee Middle School on Saturday.
They were, shutting out Manatee, 2-0.
For the boys, who were missing five key players, their 9-0 win streak ended with an 8-0 drubbing by Manatee.
The girls took control of the game early, thanks to Emmanuelle Meurgue. With the game less than fives minutes old, Meurgue dribbled down field and slammed a shot by the Manatee goalie for a 1-0 lead.
A few minutes later, on a corner kick, she curved the ball over the goalie’s head for the second goal.
Just before the end of the first half she kicked in a would-be third goal, but it was called off by the referee as he had not blown the whistle to start the play on a technical penalty kick.
It didn’t matter, the entire Lady Eagles team was on a roll. Eagles goalie Dani Marroquin played a key defensive role. Much of the time she was up the field, far from the goal, to boom away potential rallies for Manatee.
While Hailey Karp didn’t score, she was constantly pressuring the Manatee defense, keeping its offense tied up at its end of the field.
When Manatee did move down field they had to get by Eagles defenders Areesa Chaudhry, Bebe Marroquin, Sarah Hine, and Rubi Olalde.
On offense, Riley Burke, Rosie Poling, Emily Hamilton, Aubrey Smith and Meurgue kept the pressure on the Manatee defense.
“They were fired up, they played their best game of the season,” said coach Kim Burke as the team went to 7-3 on the season.
For the boys, it was a case of the Eagles playing shorthanded against a very good Manatee team.
Coach Justin Mooman said the team hadn’t been beaten since the middle of 2009, winning two straight Collier County Public Schools championships.
“Many of these kids have played together since they were five years old,” Mooman said, not to mention he has 11 returnees from the championship team.
Kyle and Kole Bartos, Chris Nyhus, Josh Wagner and Santil Ruiz were not available as they were playing on a Naples travel team that was competing in a tournament.
“Manatee is a good team, however I would like to have played them at full strength,” coach Mike Vanderjagt said. “I know we will continue to put our best foot forward as we move into the private school playoffs and (more) county games.”