With a chill in the air and the wind blowing, Navarre’s girls soccer team knew it would be at a disadvantage in the opening half of its game against Gulf Breeze Thursday night. The Raiders went against the wind in the opening half and found themselves down by a goal at halftime.
It was a different story in the second half, with Navarre scoring three goals in a span of 12 minutes to nail down a 3-1 win over the rival Dolphins.
“We understand how the weather affects the game and we purposely wanted to go against the wind in the first half,” Navarre head coach Rob Simon said. “We had opportunities but they dictated the style of play in the first half. We couldn’t get into a rhythm.”
Florida State commit Emily Madril dished off a pass to Jennifer Seward three minutes into the second half and the play resulted in a goal, tying the score at 1-1.
Madril put the game away with two goals in five minutes. She scored off an assist from her sister, Anakah, with 30 minutes to play in the game and punched in an unassisted goal five minutes later to extend Navarre’s lead to 3-1.
“I wasn’t upset or worried at halftime. My message to them was to calm down and play,” Simon said. “We were able to weather the storm and we were going to go ahead and take care of the game. We showed that in the second half. The wind was at our back and we played our style of play.”
Gulf Breeze struggled to get scoring chances thanks to the tenacity of a defense anchored by the leadership of Haylee Howard. Emily Depersio tallied four saves and Jessika Seward racked up five saves.
“The entire team, from back to front, did a great job,” Simon said. “At no time did we let them get behind us to create a goal-scoring opportunity. Everything was a bad angle or distance shot. We didn’t play our cleanest game but we did the job.”
Ranked third in the nation by MaxPreps, the Raiders improved to 15-1-1 overall. They are 7-0 in the District 1-4A standings.
Read more in the Dec. 22 edition of the Navarre Press or subscribe online here.