Rodriguez sparks Gulliver to victory over Ransom

 

Special to the Miami Herald

It was just her second goal of the season, but it was a big one for Gulliver Prep’s Carena Rodriguez.

The freshman defender, who played for Coral Reef last season, scored after a scramble in front of the net, helping host Gulliver eliminate Ransom Everglades 2-0 Thursday afternoon in a Class 2A regional quarterfinal.

Gulliver (15-0-2) advances to Tuesday’s regional semifinal at Mast.

“Someone gave me a cross, I didn’t give up, I slid, and it went in,” Rodriguez said when asked to describe her goal, which came with just 10 minutes elapsed in the game.

That “someone” was sophomore defender Nicole Martinez, and the result of the goal and two first-half injuries were devastating to Ransom (9-5-4), which was eliminated by Gulliver for the second straight year.

Greg Noblet, who on Thursday completed his seventh season as Ransom’s coach, has never beaten rival Gulliver. But Ransom did manage its first tie (1-1) in the Noblet era when the teams met on Nov. 16.

Ransom senior goalie Charlsey Zynes, a Pepperdine University recruit, made some big stops that day. But by the following month, she was out for the season due to a knee injury suffered while playing club ball.

The bad breaks continued for Ransom Tuesday when starting defender Nikki Court-Reuss, a senior, left the game with a right-ankle injury and junior midfielder Celine Ferraro, who leads the team in goals (14) and assists (17) hurt her right wrist.

Given that undefeated Gulliver has allowed only two goals all season, a Ransom rally without its top scorer did not seem likely.

“That didn’t help,” Noblet said of the injuries.

Ransom has four seniors on its roster but – due to the injuries – only one was on the field by the end of the game.

Gulliver is also young, with just three seniors on its roster, although one is goalie Ciara Keane, who earned a rather easy shutout Thursday.

Another Gulliver senior, Hansine Vexlund, got the second goal, which came on a penalty kick with 20 minutes left in the game. She booted her goal to the right corner, beating Ransom’s Alexa Bishophric, who guessed the other way.

Bishophric, a sophomore who allowed just nine goals in 18 games while filling in for Zyne, made two big saves in the final 15 minutes. She denied Gulliver junior Brigitte Northland of both occasions.

Gulliver, which lost in last year’s state final and won the 2A title in 2011, could face Delray Beach American Heritage in a regional final. AH had won 17 straight state playoff games – and three consecutive state titles – before Gulliver beat it 4-2 last season.

“We didn’t play very well (Thursday), but we will take the win,” Gulliver Coach Everton Edwards said. “We’ve got some work to do.”

•  Region 5A Quarterfinal: Ferguson 2, Coral Gables 0: One swipe swipe of a leg cut trough winter chill and made blanketed bleachers bellow in Ferguson’s 2-0 Class 5A Regional quarterfinal win against Coral Gables Thursday at Tropical Park.

It was Marcela Ramirez’s extremity that ended an extremely frustrating first half for the Falcons. Ramirez dribbled in from the left side and knifed into the box. After a slight scrum in front of net, Ramirez secured the ball and fired into the net in the 64thminute. The Falcons (17-2-1) had more than 20 shots on goal in the first half.

“I dribbled in diagonally and saw they were all backing up and I ripped it back post,” Ramirez said. “It was very frustrating, but we did it. I had confidence in my team. I knew we could do it.”

Gables keeper Isa Izquierdo wasted Ferguson for an empty scoring clip in the first half, but the short handed Cavaliers (15-5-3) couldn’t muster any offensive insurance.

“She played well,” Cavaliers coach Eddie Aguirre said. “We had a scheme set up to basically force them to shoot from outside and we have five starters out with injuries and we had no offense. We had to rely on our defense to keep us in the game and they did.”

The Falcons final blow came with less than two minutes. Isa Jara posted up inside the box as an incoming free kick came to her boot via head ball. Jara turned and volleyed the pass into the far post past the keeper.

“It was more the adjustments being made and the girls stepping up the intensity in the second half,” Falcons coach Richard Lopez said. “Marcela creating that first goal, following it up and putting the nail in the coffin.”

The Falcons play the winner of Lourdes and South Dade Tuesday in a regional semifinal game.

“We are excited about he next round,” Ramirez said. “This is my last year, as a senior, and I really want to make it count.”

ALEX BUTLER

•  Region 4-4A Quarterfinal: Miami Springs 4, South Broward 1: In a game that had a feeling much the same as it did a year ago, the Miami Springs girls soccer team overcame a sluggish first half and answered the halftime bell to score three second half goals to roll to a 4-1 victory over South Broward in a Region 4-A quarterfinal contest at Traz Powell Stadium Thursday night.

It was a year ago that Springs traveled to South Broward in the same round and, after being locked in a 1-1 tie at the half, went on to a 5-1 win.

“Yeah, it kind of felt the same way again,” said Springs coach William Drew who saw his team improve to 20-2-1. “We were locked in a dogfight with them last year at halftime just like tonight. Fortunately our girls came out and put a few quick scores up on them to start the second half and we were okay from there.”

After Springs’ Ale Salazar scored her 40th goal of the season in the game’s seventh minute to give her team an early 1-0 lead, South Broward battled back on a goal from Kaycee Braeseke in the 15th minute, a header off a corner kick from her sister Kylie.

The Bulldogs (14-7-0) then battled Springs toe-to-toe the rest of the first half and felt poised to pull off the upset, locked in a 1-1 tie at the half.

But Springs came out cooking early in the second when, just four minutes in, Annette Cea scored from the left side off an assist Alyssa Deno to put the Hawks up for good. Sofia Dela Puente then popped one in three minutes later to make it 3-1 before Deno scored in the 54th minute off an assist from Cea to complete the scoring.

Springs, which has gone at least to the regional finals eight of the last nine years, will travel to Broward County next Tuesday (Jan. 28) to take on Pembroke Pines Charter, which defeated TERRA 4-0, in a regional semifinal.

BILL DALEY

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