Home Sports Quick second half strikes help Pine School soccer get past Christian in 2-2A semi

Quick second half strikes help Pine School soccer get past Christian in 2-2A semi

Quick second half strikes help Pine School soccer get past Christian in 2-2A semi

HOBE SOUND — In the past two years, finding themselves without a goal for a first half has been a rarity for the Pine School boys soccer team and Saturday, Circle Christian made life difficult for the Knights in a 2-2A semifinal.

It took 58 minutes for Pine senior Max Charles to break the seal and three minutes later, freshman Eric Lefort added a second goal to send the Knights to their second straight regional final with a 2-0 victory.

Pine School's Max Charles takes in a pass during a Region 2-2A semifinal against Circle Christian on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023 in Hobe Sound. Charles scored in the 58th minute helping the Knights earn a 2-0 victory.

The defending 2A champions were without one of their top players in senior center-back Julian Restrepo, who scored four goals in Wednesday’s 8-0 regional quarterfinal win over Master’s Academy and it was evident without their vocal leader that in the first half the Knights weren’t quite running at full steam.

As the No. 5 seed in the region, the Centurions played above their weight with an imposing midfield and backline featuring several players taller than the Knights on the other side and did not give Pine School’s attack many options going forward in possession.

With the match goalless at halftime, Pine School head coach Staci Wilson addressed with her team some minor tweaks to open the play up more with a change to their tactics but right from the start of the half, a near miss for Circle Christian almost put the Knights behind.

A long ball off the second half kick fell to the feet of Carson McManus and the Centurion junior just fired wide left of the near post.

Right back down the field, Pine School’s Henry Alexandrescu fired in a cross from the right but it was palmed away by Circle Christian keeper Teagan Reddy right before Charles was pouncing on the opportunity in front of goal.

McManus had another opportunity with a clean shot from left of goal all alone in the box but his right-footed shot was powered over the crossbar with Pine keeper Javier Barbosa in good position.

The Knights (11-3-2) finally broke through in the 58th minute as senior Dakota Schrein made a rambling run through the Centurion midfield and sprayed a ball out wide to Alexandrescu, who fed the ball out in front of goal in a calamity of bodies.

In the tangle of legs, the ball was spit out to Charles, who knocked the ball into the back of the net with his left foot to give his team the lead.

Directly after the second half water break, Lefort received the ball left of goal and drilled in a low shot outside of the box that was able to beat Reddy at his near post to double Pine’s advantage.

Barbosa snuffed out two Circle Christian shots from long range to help Pine School see the match out and earn a shot to return to the 2A state semifinals next Wednesday.

Wilson was happy with the flip her kids made in their intensity and aggression they showed in the second half knowing their backs were against the wall trying to ensure their season would continue.

“We made just a couple of tactical adjustments, try spread the field in certain spaces some more, we ourselves were crowding our own space,” Wilson said. “Made a switch at a position or two. Sometimes in high school, the kids get so excited and want to try and do things themselves and that personality is great to have but if you use it too early, it can go against them.”

The Knights will get second seed Lakeland Christian in the regional final as the Vikings survived a nine-goal thriller with Legacy Charter coming away with a 5-4 victory.

Having played a variety of teams with different styles throughout the season, Wilson thinks the match Saturday was a good test run for the type of environment her kids will experience the rest of the way with each passing match one step closer to the Knights getting a chance to repeat as state champions.

“It was a good game for us to face, obviously winning today makes it great,” Wilson said. “With Julian not being here, we wanted to see where our chemistry was. I was really happy to see Max score today, it’s his senior year and he really had a good performance today even getting a yellow card early.”


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