River Cities

Miami Springs girls soccer team edges Ferguson, off to great start

By now we have almost gotten used to it.

The Miami Springs girls soccer team gets off to a great regular season start, rolls a bunch of inferior teams (many in its own district) by lopsided scores and, if they’re lucky get to play a few tough matches along the way, hopefully finding a way to win those, captures a district title and eventually runs into a road block in the regional playoffs.

Ditto for the 2014-15 season — at least so far. With a veteran team that includes six returning starting seniors, head coach William Drew is hopeful that the last part about the regional playoffs will be different next February. A 4-0 drilling at the hands (feet?) of Pembroke Pines Charter in a regional semifinal last February and regional final losses to Melbourne the previous two years still resonate unpleasantly and is a trend the Lady Hawks hope to stop in their effort to make it to the girls soccer Holy Grail, the state final four in Melbourne.

Last week, they brought a 9-0-1 record, which included the usual lopsided wins over weak district teams, into a big home contest against another undefeated team in Ferguson.

Thanks to a pair of goals from junior Alyssa Deno, the Springs girls finally got something they really were hungry for — a “quality” win over a “quality” opponent when they knocked off the Falcons 2-1 at Springs High School.

“A good effort all the way around,” Drew said of the win against Ferguson. “We’ve really struggled this year finding a way to get the ball in the net but we managed to pop a few in and then hang on to get the win, which was big for us.”

Big because Springs’ only other contest involving a tough opponent was against Coral Reef three weeks ago and that resulted in a 0-0 tie. Their two biggest challengers in their own district are Mater Academy and TERRA, and the Lady Hawks already have recorded 2-0 and 4-1 victories against them, respectively.

“When we lost Ale to graduation last year, I was worried that we might struggle finding the back of the net and that’s what has happened this year,” Drew said, referring to Ale Salazar, whose 40 goals was second-most in the county last year. “It’s not easy to replace 40 goals, but we’re working to get there.”

Deno, off an assist from senior co-captain Sophie De La Puente, scored 12 minutes before halftime to give her team a 1-0 lead over Ferguson and then a second goal 15 minutes deep into the second half.

The second one turned out to be huge when the Falcons, just two minutes after the second-half water break, popped one in past Springs keeper Brianna Gomez to cut the lead in half. But good defense over the final 17 minutes helped preserve the lead and the win.

“This was a good win for us because we only will have a few tough games against some really good teams during the regular season,” said Deno. “It’s those games that really tell you where you are as a team, so we like where we’re at, although scoring goals has been a struggle and something we need to get better at.”

“We’re connecting on our passes but just not finishing,” De La Puente said of the teams’ struggles to score goals. “The passes are there but sometimes maybe we’re guilty of one too many passes and it’s a process we’re going to have to learn to work our way through and improve at and the win over Ferguson was a good start. They were the best team we had faced up to that point, so it was good for us.”

With 12 district games to play (Springs has six teams in its district and plays everyone twice), that only left seven other games Drew could schedule. Aside from Coral Reef and Ferguson, he also had Palmetto on there but the Panthers called the day before their scheduled game two weeks ago and canceled. Next week, Drew and the girls will hit the road and head north to Boca Raton to take on a good Spanish River squad.

“I called both MAST Academy and Lourdes to try and get them on the schedule but they were booked up,” said Drew.

Following Christmas break will come the GMAC playoffs, which could bring a couple more tough games before the district playoffs in mid-January.

Besides De La Puente, other starting seniors for Springs include Maria Salas, Annette Cea, Vanessa Kristaly, Veronica Lopez and Debbie Yance.

Drew got news this past Monday he did not need to hear when he learned that one of his star players, Deno, had hurt herself up in Boca when she and two other teammates went up to compete with their club team in the Boca Showcase Classic, an event sandwiched around the NCAA Women’s Soccer Final Four at FAU which drew many college scouts.

“It was a mild sprain in my left ankle, so hopefully I’ll be OK in a few weeks because there’s another big tournament up at Disney,” Deno said, referring to the Disney Holiday Classic, a real who’s who of soccer talent that draws college coaches from all over the country every year during the week between Christmas and New Year’s.