PSJ to face Rocky Bayou in district finals tonight

Both Port St. Joe soccer teams got their “second season” off on the right foot last Thursday night, Jan. 27, with decisive district semi-final wins. 

Serving as hosts of the Class 2A District 1 tournament by nature of their respective number one seeds, the girls easily dispatched Franklin County 9-1 while the boys celebrated a belated Senior Night with a 5-0 shutout of Wakulla Christian in the nightcap. 

The girls improved their record to 7-5-5, while the boys record stood at 12-7. 

In girls action, seniors Haley Corzine, Rebecca Maddox, and London White led a relentless attack upon the youthful Seahawks, cruising to a 7-0 lead before Franklin County seventh grader Wendy Bernabe worked the ball into the Tiger Shark goal after an assist from freshman Jade Lively with 5:50 left before halftime. 

Prior to that, White had started the scoring five minutes into the contest with an assist from Maddox. Less than five minutes later, the Shark blitz began with the first of four goals from Maddox, who added her second less than two minutes later for a 3-0 Shark lead. 

White’s second goal pushed the first half lead to 4-0 with 21:40 on the clock, and Maddox earned a hat trick less than a minute later, giving St. Joe a 5-0 lead. 

A few seconds after the water break, Maddox earned her fourth goal of the game, and her 28th of the season, before taking her leave from the game. 

Maddox, who showed no effects from her five knee surgeries in four years, planned to show off her skills at a camp at Virginia Tech this past weekend, “to play in front of a bunch of (coaches) and see if I can get any D1 (Division 1) offers.” 

Following Maddox’s departure from the game, Corzine began showing her offensive prowess, sandwiching her two goals around the Seahawk score as the half ended with St. Joe in front with a commanding 8-1 lead. 

The game ended midway through the second half under the mercy rule, when seventh grader Sadie Burkett kicked the ball into the net out of the reach of junior Seahawk goalie Bobbie Pedrick. 

“We come into every game expecting to win,” said St. Joe coach Justin Gerlach, pleased with his team’s performance. 

Notably absent from this contest, just as she had missed the previous four, was senior Madelyn Gortemoller, the Sharks’ second leading scorer, whose high school soccer days unfortunately are over due to a knee injury.

“Maddie is a player we have come to depend on, both from her play but also her leadership and experience on the field,” said Gerlach. “Anytime you lose someone who is second on the team with both goals and assists, it’s difficult.” 

“We don’t exactly have another Maddie just waiting on the bench; however, she’s done a great job of sharing her experience with her teammates both at practice and at games,” he said, 

With the loss, Franklin County exits the season with a 1-12-1 record, but first-year Seahawk coach Anna Bull remained upbeat about her team’s prospects in future seasons, primarily because of its youth. 

“We have (only) two seniors, five middle schoolers and lots of freshmen and sophomores,” said Bull. “We’re excited, (although) it’s going to be a long haul process, but by the time our freshmen are seniors, it’s going to be a strong team.

“They’ve got a lot of promise (and) a lot of fight,” she said. “They’ve kept at it all season. They fight to the end of every game, and they have improved so drastically from the start of the season. It’s been a blast.”

In the district finals Monday, St. Joe will play the Rocky Bayou Christian Knights, who defeated Munroe 7-0 on Friday in the other semi-final match. Details of the championship will be in next week’s Star. 

Port St. Joe 5-0 over Wakulla Christian 

In the nightcap, the Tiger Shark boys cruised past Wakulla Christian after recognizing the eight seniors on the team. 

In alphabetical order, the seniors are Ashton Burkett, Gerson Flores, Luis Fonseca, Porter Hodges, Caden Jackson, Gage Medina, Justice Peacock, and Nico Valenzuela. 

Originally planned for Jan. 21, Senior Night had to be postponed due to inclement weather. But it was worth the wait as the Tiger Sharks easily handled the Saints for the third time this season. 

St. Joe got on the board 13 minutes into the match when sophomore Lance Larry, the team assist leader, found leading scorer Jaydon Gant, a junior, open for the goal. 

Midway through the first half, St. Joe doubled the score when the same combination of Larry-to-Gant struck again for a 2-0 lead. 

Barely two minutes later, Larry scored his own goal, courtesy of a nifty pass from teammate Estevan Angel.

Flores found the net, thanks to a Gant assist, with 12:25 showing before the half, giving the Tiger Sharks a 4-0 lead. 

Flores ended the scoring with his second goal of the game on an assist from fellow senior Hodges with 18:05 remaining in the match, and sophomore goalie Fisher Vandertulip protected the shutout with his six saves. 

Shark coach Bobby Alexander expected stronger competition in the championship game Monday, facing Rocky Bayou, who defeated Franklin County 4-2 last Friday night. 

“It was tough getting a good sense (of Rocky Bayou) with the weather. It was pretty cold and the wind was very strong,” Alexander said.

“They have a strong goalie, (who is) tall and moves well,” he said. “Their two strikers are very fast and have outstanding control of the ball.”

“I like what our team has done thus far, (and) if we come to play, I feel good about our chances,” said Alexander.

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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