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Giovanna Waksman’s hat trick helps Pine School fight off Jupiter Christian 3-2 for 8-2A title

SportsGiovanna Waksman's hat trick helps Pine School fight off Jupiter Christian 3-2 for 8-2A title

JUPITER — All season long, Pine School has turned to one of its youngest players to make things happen when the Knights needed it the most.

Giovanna Waksman showed why she is one of the most talented players on the Treasure Coast and also showed the innocence of youth is a reality that almost dashed her team’s district title hopes.

The eighth grade goal-scoring dynamo netted the go-ahead, hat-trick securing goal in the 70th minute and after being sent off for removing her shirt was able to see her teammates fend off Jupiter Christian 3-2 to win the District 8-2A championship.

Pine School won its fourth straight district title, defeating Jupiter Christian 3-2 in the District 8-2A championship match on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023 in Jupiter.

A long ball sent downfield from Pippa Hilton-Green was headed forward by Waksman, who dribbled off to her right and her shot across goal nestled into the left-hand corner of the net and after swinging her jersey around her head, the youngster and her head coach were unaware of the rule resulting in a blue card.

“It was completely in the spur of the moment, nothing planned there but we’ll obviously look at, just calm the celebrations down because you never know if you have those referees again and you do something,” Pine School head coach Kelly Hilton-Green said. “You just don’t want to get on the wrong side of that but it happens. She’s a remarkable talent.

Waksman’s talent was on display all season to the tune of 38 goals including a pair during the regular season against the Eagles in a 2-2 draw on Jan. 17. That result proved to be important as the result helped Jupiter Christian stay ahead of Pine School going into the district tournament in which the top seed hosted matches throughout.

It was the home side that grabbed an early lead as Eagle seventh grader Jahpetria Charles poked home a shot after a poor Knight clearance attempt away from goal that made it 1-0 Jupiter Christian after five minutes.

After Reese Habicht rocked the crossbar for Pine School in the 14th minute, Waksman leveled the match five minutes later rifling home a 25-yard effort that sailed high into the roof of the Eagle net.

The two sides went to halftime still tied but it was Waksman, who hit the crossbar late in the first half, who created the chance for the Knights (13-1-1) to go ahead earning a penalty after being brought down just inside the box by Jupiter Christian goalkeeper Sabrina Callejas.

Waksman drilled the shot to the keeper’s left to put Pine School on top in the 54th minute but six minutes later, Jupiter Christian had the opportunity to answer as Charles was knocked over inside the Knight box.

Juliana Tibbs stepped up and her shot beat Addie Buckner to her left to square the match at 2-2.

The battle of the midfield for both teams proved critical with the likes of Waksman, Keziah Anderson and Jaiden Anderson battling for space with Tibbs, Gia Vastola and Iris Gardner and both teams finding more success sending long balls over the top to create havoc.

Pippa Hilton-Green’s pass that send away Waksman for the deciding goal was defining moment for a young Knight team that had to replace senior Hannah Squier, last year’s TCPalm Player of the Year.

Pine School's Giovanna Waksman and Jupiter Christian's Juliana Tibbs duel for the ball during the District 8-2A championship match on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023 in Jupiter. Pine School won the match 3-2.

In their quest to win a fourth straight district title, it was Buckner, a freshman who Kelly Hilton-Green went with the whole way in goal who came up huge late.

On a ball sent in across the box, Buckner, normally a defender, stuck her nose in and slid across to deny a dangerous shot from Jupiter Christian’s Annie Bills with the Eagles using their man advantage.

The choice Hilton-Green made sticking with Buckner instead of rotating back in senior keeper Justina Southern, who had missed time recently to illness, for the second half turned out to work with the coach having faith in the youngsters he has.

“I was going to put Justina in for the second half but I didn’t want to upset the balance of the game, Addie seemed to be riding the crest of the wave during the game,” Hilton-Green said. “Those are the choices you make at the time and it worked out.”

The Knights in their run of four straight titles have been a thorn in the side to the Eagles defeating Jupiter Christian in 2019 and 2020 before defeating St. Edward’s last season.

Pine School will await to see who they will host in a Region 2-2A quarterfinal on Feb. 7 while Jupiter Christian will hit the road as an assured at-large berth for the quarterfinals.

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