District finals: Golden Gate, Estero, First Baptist soccer, Bishop Verot basketball earn titles
Roundup of high school district finals on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2020.
Class 5A-District 12
Golden Gate 3, Lely 1
Joaquin Acuna led Golden Gate to a dominant second half as the Titans stormed back to win the district championship.
The Trojans led 1-0 for more than 52 minutes on their home field. But with 25 minutes to play, Acuna scored from the far right side to tie the game and steal the momentum for Golden Gate (14-4-2).
Acuna, the Titans’ all-time leading goal scorer, then added the game-winner with 12:24 to play on a penalty kick after he was fouled in the box. Jonathan Euceda scored Golden Gate’s third goal with seven minutes left after Lely turned the ball over deep in its own end.
“It was just pure heart, pure desire to win, pure effort,” Acuna said. “I couldn’t ask for a team with more heart. I can’t explain this feeling right now. I’ve been waiting for this since my freshman year.”
It was the first district championship for Titans coach Andy Hernandez in his six seasons leading the team.
Lely (15-5-3) jumped ahead early on a goal by senior Kener Herrera in the third minute. The Trojans now hope for a repeat of last season, when they lost in the district finals but went on to win the team’s first regional championship
Class 5A-District 12
Estero 4, Naples 3 (OT)
Estero senior Mackenzie Gorski has only been back for a week after missing almost the entire season rehabbing a torn ACL.
What a welcome back.
Gorski broke in and scored during extra time to lift the Wildcats to the Class 5A-District 12 title.
Estero juniors Ashley Shore, Isabella Gyurich, and sophomore Ansley Mancini scored in regulation.
“This is a rematch of last year’s game. They are a solid team. We need to play our game, which we didn’t, but we have some talented players,” Estero coach Matt Diamond said.
Naples had two underclassmen score for them. Sophomore Arianna Kinsley caught fire early in the game, as she scored two goals. Sophomore Elaina Loden scored one goal.
Diamond wants to keep his team focused as they head into regional play.
“We want to return to where we were last year and then some. We want to get back to the state championship game,” he said.
— Sean O'Dea
Class 2A-District 12
First Baptist 1, Marco Island 0
After a scoreless first half, First Baptist Academy scratched one second-half goal and that was enough to beat Marco Island 1-0 for the Class 2A-District 12 title in the Lions Den.
"It was a tough game in the sense that Marco has a great goalie," said FBA coach Mark Bates. "We just had to stay focused and disciplined out there. Once we got an opportunity, we were able to win. Marco didn't put a lot of people on attack, because they kept looking for a big kick or big pass to get the ball in."
The Lions will now play in the region quarterfinals Tuesday, Feb. 16 against the 2A-11 runner-up. The 2A-11 champ will host the Manta Rays on that same date.
"We had to keep changing our point of attack on offense," Bates said. "We had to keep changing so we could get a clean look on the goal. Our defense has been our strength all season, and we were disciplined in our coverage so they didn't get a lot of shots."
Marco Island goalkeeper Kirra Polley made three big saves, two on hard line drives and a third sprawling save midway through the half. Despite FBA's offensive pressure, it was 0-0 at halftime.
In the second half, Ariana Cintron missed a penalty kick above the crossbar. Cintron finally got the Lions on the board by dribbling one past Polley four minutes into the second half for the game‘s only goal.
"It was a tough game with us having almost no subs," MIA coach Matt Poland said. "We showed incredible fight and heart tonight. This final score of 1-0 is as close a game as you can get. Losing hurts, but I'm proud of our girls."
FBA and MIA now get 11 days off to rest and practice.
"We'd hoped to get some chances on counter-attack," Poland said. "We had to set back on defense because we didn't have many subs and maybe get the game to penalty kicks. Hopefully, we can get our players back and play hard for 80 minutes in the region."
— Tom Corwin
Class 3A-District 7
Bishop Verot 36, Canterbury 21: Both teams advance to the regional playoffs next Thursday and will face teams from Class 3A-District 8. That final is Friday night between St. John Neumann and Community School of Naples.