The Navarre High School boys’ soccer team closed out the regular season last week with a 4-0 victory against Fort Walton Beach and a 1-0 win against Niceville and entered this week’s Florida High School Athletics Association District 1-4A soccer tournament seeded second behind Niceville. (PHOTO: Eddie Layne dribbles the ball between opponents.)
The district tournament began Monday, with the championship game scheduled at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, at Bennett C. Russell Stadium in Navarre.
Navarre 4, Fort Walton Beach 0
The Raiders flexed their offensive muscle, beating Fort Walton Beach on Jan. 14 at home in a match rescheduled from earlier in the month. Coach Ken MacDonald continued to use his bench to keep fresh legs in the game at all times. His plan seems to be working to perfection as the Raiders’ opponents seem to tire in the second half of games.
Ryan Olson scored twice and assisted on goals by Kameron Bethell and Cody White. Olson’s goals were assisted by Malcolm Valdes-Fernandez and Ricardo Hidalgo.
The defense of Cam Smith, White, Chandler Moorer, Hidalgo, and Logan Townsend shut down the Vikings. The Raiders limited Viking shots, funneling them to keeper Amuia Alford who was able to make easy saves.
Navarre 1, Niceville 0
Despite freezing temperatures and howling winds on Jan. 17, the Raiders hung on for a 1-0 home win against Niceville.
The teams remained scoreless at halftime as they slugged it out at midfield. For most of the game it looked as though it might end in a scoreless tie.
Early in the game MacDonald turned to his bench often, taking full advantage of the Navarre’s depth. The strategy paid off when, late in the second half, the Raiders began wearing the Eagles down. In the 54th minute, Bethell passed to Jordan Supra deep in Eagle territory. Supra found Olson open with a pass 18 yards from the goal. Olson turned and fired a hard shot past the Eagle keeper for the only score of the game. It was the ninth goal for Olson in his last three games.
The win was a complete team victory for the Raiders. MacDonald used almost his entire bench and little was lost with each substitution. Whether it was Bethell, Brendan Smith, Supra, Dominic Dudai, Nikia Hawkins, Valdes-Fernandez, Eddy Layne, Taylor Wallace, Noah Hughson or Garrett Hagood, the players had one goal; attack the Eagle goal. The Raiders kept the pressure on for all 80 minutes. The defense of Smith, White, Moorer, Hidalgo and Townsend protected the Raider goal and Navarre keeper Alford was really never tested.