Navarre High School’s boys’ soccer team played two games last week and at first the Raiders were a little rusty after a two-week break from school. Coach Ken MacDonald substituted freely trying to get the Raiders familiar with playing together at game speed. Some players are coming off injuries and his goal, he explained, was to ease them back into play and avoid aggravating their injuries.
(Photo: Navarre's Chandler Moorer leaps to head the ball toward the Tate goal.)
Navarre 3, South Walton 0
The Raiders beat South Walton 3-0 Jan. 2 in a non-district match at the Navarre Sports Complex.
Brandon White scored the only goal of the first half at the 12-minute mark. While the Seahawks tried to move the ball out of their end of the field, White split two defenders inside the 18-yard line and took control of a loose ball. White’s left foot put the ball into the upper right corner of the net to give the Raiders a 1-0 lead.
The only close call for the Raiders came in the 16th minute when keeper Amuia Alford leaped high to make a save as he hit the ball off the cross bar.
The Raiders began passing more accurately in the second half and the Walton keeper fielded a barrage of shots. At the 55-minute mark, Nikia Hawkins raced down the right side of the field with the ball. He eventually crossed a pass to the middle of the field. Malcolm Valdes-Fernandez knocked down the pass and rocketed a shot past the Seahawk keeper, giving the Raiders a 2-0 lead.
The last score of the game occurred when Ricardo Hidalgo dribbled down the right side of the field in the 70th minute and crossed a pass through several Seahawk defenders. Kameron Bethell picked up the pass and hit a hard shot past the Seahawk keeper from five yards out to make the final score Navarre 3, South Walton 0.
Navarre 5, Tate 2
The Raiders traveled to Tate on Jan. 5 and came away with a 5-2 victory.
Navarre took an early lead when Ryan Olson took a corner kick at the 16-minute mark. He drove the ball toward the net and Taylor Wallace leaned into the ball, heading it into the goal, giving Navarre a 1-0 lead.
Ten minutes later, Tate tied the score when Aggie Bo Jenkins was knocked down inside the box and converted the subsequent penalty kick.
With five minutes left in the first half, Sean Dougherty passed to Garrett Hagood, who was at least 30 yards from the goal. Hagood turned and fired a long kick toward the goal. The ball carried over the Tate keeper’s head and into the right corner of the net, giving the Raiders a 2-1 lead going into halftime. It was Hagood’s first varsity goal.
“It may have looked like I was just trying to pass it close to the goal, but it was a shot,” Hagood said. “I looked up and saw the keeper coming out toward me and I tried to loop it over his head.”
Three minutes into the second half, Wallace was tripped in the box and scored on the penalty kick. A minute later, Dominic Dudai was fouled by the Aggie keeper and converted the penalty kick to give the Raiders a 4-1 lead.
Tate scored again in the 51st minute when Aggie Michael DeMars scored while taking a direct kick.
Nikia Hawkins closed out the scoring for the Raiders in the 53rd minute. Olson passed out to the right sideline where Hawkins picked up the pass and made a nice shot that beat the Tate keeper to make the final score Navarre 5, Tate 2.
The Raiders’ record is 8-2-2 overall, 5-1 in district play. Navarre was scheduled to play Tuesday at Fort Walton Beach Choctawhatchee High School; the Raiders’ next game is scheduled for tonight, Thursday Jan. 10, at home against Pensacola Catholic.