In a game that had much the same feeling it did a year ago, the Miami Springs girls soccer team overcame a sluggish first half and answered the halftime bell to score three quick early second half goals and rolled to a 4-1 victory over South Broward in a Region 4-A quarterfinal contest at Traz Powell Stadium Thursday night (Jan. 23).
It was a year ago almost to the day that the Lady Hawks, following an upset loss to Mater Academy in the district final, traveled to South Broward High School in the same round. And, after being locked in a 1-1 tie at the half, blew the game open in the second half and cruised to a 5-1 win.
“Yeah, it kind of had that same feeling again,” said Springs coach William Drew who saw his team improve to 21-2-1. “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.”
And if the Springs girls thought they were in a dogfight Thursday night, they haven’t seen anything yet. Because their win now advances them to the regional semifinals next Tuesday night (Jan. 28) and they will be traveling to Broward County to take on a very talented Pembroke Pines Charter team at 7 p.m. And the early scuttle is that Springs will actually play the role of underdog rather than favorite for a change.
“Yeah, I know a lot of them (Pines Charter players) from club ball and they can play,” said Springs senior captain Ale Salazar who scored her 40th goal of the season just seven minutes into the game to give Springs an early 1-0 lead. “We’re going to have to buckle up and be ready to go for sure.”
After Salazar scored, the South Broward girls didn’t blink and battled back. In the game’s 15th minute, Kylie Braeseke popped a perfect corner kick right in front of the net that her sister Kaycee headed into the top right corner of the net past diving Springs keeper Brianna Gomez.
Suddenly it was 1-1 and the Bulldogs (14-7-0) then battled Springs toe-to-toe the rest of the first half and at halftime felt poised to pull off the upset.
“We came out early, got that quick goal from Ale and were playing well,” said Drew. “Then all of sudden we seemed to let down a little, gave up the goal and lost all that momentum. I told them at halftime that we had to do a better job of connecting on our passes, not just kick the ball. They obviously listened.”
That’s because the Springs girls 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. Just three minutes later, Sofia Dela Puente popped one in on a perfectly placed shot from 20 yards out to make it 3-1 before Deno scored in the 54th minute off an assist from Cea to make it 4-1 and Springs was in charge the rest of the way.
“We knew we needed to pick it up at halftime,” said Salazar. “We let down and let them back in it after we had taken the lead. The key was getting to those 50/50 balls and that’s what we did in the second half and you saw the results.”