The Ferguson girls’ soccer team knew it had to limit upstart MAST Academy’s ability to give sophomore striker Mariana Speckmaeyer scoring opportunities Wednesday night.
Speckmaeyer struck quickly for an early goal in the 16th minute.
But from that point on, the Falcons’ defense took over and gave itself a chance to come back and secure a 2-1 win over the Makos in a GMAC semifinal at Milander Park.
Ferguson (15-2-1) advances to play Miami Springs, which beat Palmetto in the other semifinal, on Friday at 7 p.m. at Milander. The Falcons will attempt to win their second GMAC title in the past three seasons.
“We needed to make some adjustments on the cleanliness of our play in the first half,” Ferguson coach Richard Lopez said. “We couldn’t allow them to play the long ball and distribute it to [Speckmaeyer].”
Ferguson erased MAST’s 1-0 lead with two quick strikes in the first 15 minutes of the second half.
Senior Isa Jarra rushed toward the goal and fired a shot that was partially deflected by MAST goalkeeper Raquel Perez. The ball rolled slowly in front of the goal until Jess Suarez came crashing in and tapped it home to tie the match.
Moments later, freshman Brianna Austin drew a foul inside the line of the 18-yard box prompting a penalty kick. Jarra converted the goal to give the Falcons the lead for good.
Speckmaeyer fired one great driving shot toward the goal, but it was saved by Ferguson’s goalkeeper.
“In this tournament you have to play the fine line between staying fit and overworking too much,” Lopez said. “This is icing on the cake and has its prestige, but it can also take its toll.”
Salazar put Miami Springs ahead first with a well-placed 25-yard free kick after a hand ball.
Palmetto tied the match at 1 in the 30th minute. It remained level until 10 minutes remaining in the second half when Salazar found the back of the net again off an assist from Sophia Gomez.
Salazar has 34 goals this season.
“Salazar has been playing unbelievable for us,” Miami Springs coach William Drew said. “This is a pretty special group that if it keeps working hard has the potential to take us far.”