ENGLEWOOD — After leading for much of the second half, the Lemon Bay girls soccer team was forced to settle for a 2-2 tie as Riverdale scored with just over four minutes to play in a non-district game Thursday night.
Raider Josie Adkins scored her second goal of the game on a breakaway to even the score after the Lady Mantas had missed several opportunities to extend the lead they had taken six minutes into the second half.
“It’s a little disappointing because we told the girls it’s important for them to be consistent in their play throughout the entire game,” Lemon Bay coach Katie Cooke said. “We ran into a little bit of a problem in the first five minutes of the game.
“We did really well, we were moving the ball, we were possessing, we go to net and score, and then we come back in the last five minutes of the game. We let our guard down and we let them put one away.”
Riverdale was awarded a corner kick less than two minutes into the match, and Adkins converted for a quick 1-0 lead. But the Mantas got their own corner kick ten minutes later and evened things up as Lauren Ragazzone scored on a header off the kick by Heather Knight.
Six minutes after halftime, Lemon Bay took a 2-1 lead as Hanna Cislo took a crossing pass from Sophia Cherniak and drilled the shot past Raider goalkeeper Madison Drovdlic into the left side of the net.
That’s how it stayed until the final minutes as Lemon Bay goalie Taylor Mason made several clutch saves in the second half until Adkins scored the equalizer.
“It was a fast breakaway on their part,” Cooke said. “A couple of our defenders got caught out of position because they had pushed up for the offensive attack and they got a little lackadaisical getting back so we were a little bit lazy on that transition there and the other team took advantage of it like they should have.”
Lemon Bay is now 9-5-3 on the season while Riverdale is 8-2-3, but Cooke knew the Mantas had let a victory slip away.
“It’s a little bit frustrating when you know that you’ve possessed the ball 85 to 90 percent of the game and then you let it go,” Cooke said. “But we were working the ball really pretty through the midfield. They were finding feet and starting to jell as a team. Our forwards are keeping their heads up and taking shots so that’s all encouraging going into districts.”
The Mantas have their final district match of the season Friday night against Island Coast at home.
Mantas score six in senior-night victory
Six Lemon Bay seniors were honored before the game for Senior Night,, and the Manta Rays celebrated by scoring six times in defeating Riverdale, 6-3, at a chilly Veterans Stadium Thursday night.
The first half was close, with Lemon Bay leading 1-0 at intermission on a goal by Keagan Hoaglin in the opening minutes. The second half turned into a wild affair with the Mantas opening up a big lead and coasting to the win.
“It was a huge victory,” senior Keegan McCormack said. “We played with a lot of heart. We played with a lot of emotion. We started to let loose and at the very end we pulled together even though it started to look a little ugly. I love the team effort a lot.”
“This team that we went up against used to mercy rule us,” fellow senior Jonathan Ruiz said. “But with all the effort all the boys put in, we came out on top and that’s what’s important. With the support we got tonight, we couldn’t ask for anything more. It’s been an amazing Senior Night.”
Senior Ben Crumpton scored three minutes into the second half to make it 2-0, then notched another goal on a breakaway 12 minutes later to give Lemon Bay a 3-0 advantage.
The Raiders got one back on penalty kick by Delmer Regalado just before the second half water break. With a district game coming up Friday, Mantas coach Emilio Baradith began substituting several junior varsity players to give his starters a break. Esteban Alvarez and Michael Greggs scored for Lemon Bay to make it 5-1 with less than 10 minutes to go in the match.
Moments later, Riverdale was awarded another penalty kick, and Regalado cashed in again. Another Raider goal three minutes later forced Baradith to put his starters back in, and Milo Rossetti added the final tally for the Mantas in the final seconds of the game.
Lemon Bay (10-6) now heads to Island Coast for its final district match of the season.
“That’s such an important game,” McCormack said. “If we win, we can go into third place, and that’ll be as high as we’ve ever been in 24 years. That’s huge for us. We want to go as far as we can in districts. We want to try to win it.”