Lourdes continues to show why they have been the constant among Miami-Dade County girls’ soccer powerhouses.
The Bobcats faced their latest threat to their supremacy Thursday night in a highly-anticipated playoff matchup with Coral Reef.
It didn’t take long for Lourdes to gain an edge and eventually turn the match into a rout as it sent the Barracudas home in the regional quarterfinals for the second consecutive season with a 3-0 shutout at the Columbus soccer field.
Lourdes (19-2) won its first-round playoff match for the 12th consecutive season and will next host Coral Gables Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at Columbus in the regional semifinals. The Bobcats are 5-0 all-time in regionals against Coral Reef.
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“We had probably our best game of the year so far,” Lourdes coach Ramiro Vengoechea said. “We were well-organized and played at a high intensity and I think that was the difference in the game.”
Senior Natalie Silberman helped Lourdes strike quickly with a perfectly-placed long-distance shot that found its way past Coral Reef goalie Montana Ligman high on the far corner of the goal.
Silberman added her 22nd goal of the season in the second half with 20:58 remaining to give Lourdes a 2-0 lead. Sophomore Victoria Munoz added another seven minutes later.
Junior Amanda Puig made a couple of tough saves down the stretch to preserve the shutout.
“We knew this was a huge game, so we’re really excited to beat them and we trained really hard all week for this,” Silberman said.
Coral Reef (19-2) finished the season losing its final two games after winning its first 19. The Barracudas lost a heartbreaker in overtime last week to Palmetto in the District 16-5A championship and suffered an even greater loss when junior Rayquel Berry suffered a sprained knee which forced her to miss Thursday’s game.
Lourdes has also been playing without one of its top players, junior Niki Molina, who fractured her clavicle.
The Bobcats have persevered drawing on several different sources of offense including Silberman and Munoz.
“We lost a lot of seniors from last year, but the main core of the team was back and a lot of these girls have been playing in these types of games since they were freshmen,” Vengoechea said. “That type of experience comes through in these kinds of games.”
▪ Region 4-3A Quarterfinal — Miami Springs 2, Pines Charter 1 (3-1 PKs): All season long Miami Springs goalkeeper Brianna Gomez has been the backbone of her team, especially at crunch time.
Gomez came through in the biggest moment of her career as it was “Stone City” for the FIU-bound senior keeper as she stopped three of four shots during a penalty kick shootout to lead the Golden Hawks to a dramatic 2-1 overtime penalty kick shootout win (3-1 PKs) over Pembroke Pines Charter at Traz Powell Stadium.
The next task for Springs will be a daunting one as the Hawks (21-2-1) will host four-time defending state champion Plantation American Heritage in a regional semifinal on Jan. 31 at either Milander Stadium or Tropical Park.
“I had a good PK round against Palmetto in GMACs a few weeks ago and that really helped my confidence when I was getting ready for them tonight,” said Gomez who stopped the first two Charter shots and then turned away Maya Cabrera in the fourth attempt to clinch it. “Once I stopped that first one, I didn’t think anything was going to get past me.”
Trailing 1-0 at halftime after Pines Charter (14-5-1) scored on a Alai Araujo goal in the game’s 20th minute, Springs found the equalizer eight minutes into the second half when a pair of freshman, Gabi Cimino and Jasmine Romay, combined to score when Cimino fed Romay a perfect pass down low and she beat PC keeper Meagan Teeling to the ball.
▪ Region 4-5A Quarterfinals — Coral Gables 2, Palmetto 1 (2OT): A "golden goal" by freshman Juliana Bonavita in the 91st minute gave Coral Gables (13-6-4) a double-overtime victory over Palmetto (14-7-0) at Tropical Park. The Cavaliers will face 2016 5A state runner-up Lourdes on Tuesday in the semifinals
"It just happened, I went for the goal and didn't even think it was going in," Bonavita said. Her game-winning goal came from just inside the penalty area and was blasted in, top shelf.
In the 30th minute, Sophia Bainger scored for the Panthers on pass that was deflected. The ball landed in front of her for an easy tap-in goal. Coral Gables evened the score in the 55th minute on a goal by Hannah Evans.
Last season, Palmetto eliminated Coral Gables with a 5-0 win in the quarterfinals.
▪ Region 4-4A Quarterfinals — Archbishop McCarthy 2, TERRA 0: Two first half goals were all Archbishop McCarthy (17-2-6) needed to advance past TERRA (16-3-1)at Indian Hammocks Park.
The first Mavericks goal came when Celeste Talbot scored on a cross from Adrianna Cabeza early in the first half. The second goal was scored as an own goal by a TERRA defender.
Last season, McCarthy and TERRA also met in the quarterfinals. McCarthy won 5-1.
McCarthy will face St. Thomas Aquinas or Doral in the region semifinals next week. Last season, the Mavericks were eliminated in the semifinal by Aquinas 7-0.