In a pair of closely fought contests, the Port St. Joe girls soccer team on Nov. 30 clawed their way to a 1-1 tie against the previously unbeaten Rickards Raiders, of Tallahassee, and then lost Friday 3-2 to still unbeaten North Bay Haven.
Defending their home turf against Rickards, the Tiger Sharks gave up a goal to Kylia Thompson with 15:05 remaining in the first half, but this would be the only blemish on senior goalie Megan Saleh’s night, as she would record 11 saves for the match.
The home crowd’s hopes lifted just seven minutes into the second half when senior Rebecca Maddox was awarded a penalty kick, but Raider goalkeeper Olaniyi McKintosh blocked it, only to have it rebound back to Maddox, whose subsequent boot sailed a mere inches above the top bar.
St. Joe kept the pressure on the Rickards side of the field for most of the second half, and finally got on the board when senior Madelyn Gortemoller split two defenders on the right side and kicked the ball safely into the net with 19 minutes left in the contest to secure the tie.
“Rickards (4-0-1) was a fast and physical team,” said Shark coach Justin Gerlach. “We were hoping to come out of the game with a win, but we just couldn’t quite get that tiebreaker goal.
“I was proud of our girls for battling back after giving up an early goal,” he said, “and showing a lot of grit. Our team continues to improve, (and) we’re coming up on a stretch of a number of difficult opponents.”
The Tiger Shark girls traveled to Panama City on Friday night to face one of those challenges in the North Bay Haven Buccaneers.
London White and Gortemoller each scored, with Maddox earning assists on both goals. Saleh defended the goal well with 16 saves, but gave up two goals to Emma Smith and one to Bayleigh Pitts as the Sharks fell 3-2.
After the loss, St. Joe fell to 1-3-1 while North Bay Haven improved to 4-0-2. The Tiger Sharks hosted Wakulla Tuesday, Dec. 7 and will travel to Freeport on Friday, Dec. 10.
Port St. Joe Boys Soccer
The Port St. Joe boys soccer team record slipped to 3-2 after falling to Rickards 2-1 Nov. 30.
Junior Christian Peacock scored the lone Tiger Shark goal on a free kick, and sophomore Fisher Vandertulip had seven saves in goal, but the Raiders managed to score twice in the first half to record the win.
“We played flat coming off the (Thanksgiving) break,” said St. Joe coach Bobby Alexander. “(But) we slowed down in the second half and our passing improved. We actually played better soccer.”
With the win, Rickards improved to 5-2 on the season.
On Friday, Dec. 3, the Sharks took another one-goal loss on the chin, coming out on the wrong end of a 5-4 score against North Bay Haven after being tied at halftime 2-2.
“It took us a little bit to match the second half intensity of North Bay Haven,” said Alexander. “We struggled staying organized in our defensive third, (and) we have to play better defense in the midfield and get some pressure up top.”
Junior Jaydon Gant scored twice, once with an assist from sophomore Lance Larry, who scored the fourth goal himself on a penalty kick.
Senior Elias Alexander also scored on a penalty kick for the Sharks, and Vandertulip had six saves in goal for St. Joe.
“Overall, we played hard and worked till the final whistle. (We) just came up a little short again,” said Alexander.
St. Joe, now 3-3, hosted Wakulla this past Monday, Dec. 6, and will travel to Freeport on Friday, Dec. 10. North Bay Haven improved to 3-2 after the win