Navarre opens soccer tourney with win

The last week of the regular season brought a 4-1 victory over Pensacola Catholic and a 3-1 win over county rival Gulf Breeze.

On Monday, the Raiders took their 16-6-1 record and #3 seed into the district tournament against #6 seed Crestview. Records and seeding now mean nothing. The stark reality is that if you win you live to play another day. If you lose, your season suddenly ends.

The Raiders are moving on in the tourney with a 5-1 win over the Bulldogs.

Even though the Raiders controlled the game from the onset, it was scoreless until after the first half water break. Garrett Haygood’s grit and determination got the ball deep into the Bulldog end. He cleared himself from the defense long enough to fire a cross to Zach Shealey who was parked in front of the net. One touch later, Navarre led 1-0.

Jonah Cruz put Navarre up by two with eight minutes left in the half. Matt Dunham made a couple of nifty moves near the left sideline. Dunham passed to Cruz in front of the goal and he punched it in for what turned out to be the game winner.

Midway through the second half, Mario Cruz showed off his skills by beating a Bulldog defender one on one, and then charged the goal and fooling the keeper for the score.

Oscar Amador entered the contest with just over fifteen minutes remaining. It took him less than a minute to make his presence felt. A Crestview defender misplayed a ball deep in their territory and Amador was there to take advantage of the mistake. His score put Navarre up by four, but he wasn’t finished. Eight  minutes later Amador scored goal number two to make it 5-0.

With under two minutes left, Crestview avoided the shutout when Devan Davis got behind the Raider defense and scored their only goal.

The season will be on the line Wednesday, January 20 when Navarre squares off against Niceville in the semi-finals. The winner will move on to the district finals and qualify for the regional round of the state playoffs. The losing team will have to look forward to next year.

— Story by Bowden Moorer

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