LAKE PLACID – Thursday night’s game between the Lake Placid Green Dragons and the Avon Park Red Devils was not just a rivalry, it was also a Class 2A–District 10 match.
The tempature plummeted into the 50s and a cloud of smoke covered the field in the second half but that did not stop Lake Placid from shutting out the Red Devils with a final score of 2-0. The victory improved the Green Dragons to 3-6-5 on the season and 2-3-2 in district play. Avon Park dropped to 0-11 overall and 0-7.
“I thought we passed really well,” said Lake Placid coach John Merlo. “We took about a million shots and I wish more would have made it in but the movement was great. This is what we needed to get ready for district play. We have to practice more on our shot purpose. Our conditioning is still off because of Christmas break so that hurt us a little bit. I thought overall for it being senior night and not starting our starters, it worked out well.”
Lake Placid struck late in the first half. The Green Dragons received a corner kick from Yasiana Ramirez that Juna Gonzales gathered in and drilled a shot past Avon Park goalie Brianna Nobles for a 1-0 lead with 7:20 left in the first half.
Avon Park’s Kirsten Oca and Katie Williams each had a shot on goal, while Lake Placid goalie Melina Oxer made three saves. Avon Park keeper Brianna Nobles had an outstanding 15 saves for the Red Devils.
“I thought it was an excellent game,” said Avon Park Coach Christopher Sboto. “The girls went out there and left everything on the field. I am very proud of them. A pass here, a pass there, and a inch offside here and it could have been a different game. Lake Placid did a great job guarding Gabriella Sboto. They kept her on lock down. Defense really stood up Haileigh Franza, Isabell Hernandez, Hailey Collinsworth and Miranda Hernandez, that whole side kept Lake Placid outside and played very tough. Both teams played their hearts out and it made it fun to watch. I am very proud of all the ladies. Our girls are still learning and that was the best I have seen them pass. They are talking, had a few good drop passes and it is going to come together. We are still getting the girls familiarized with each other and it is a young group of girls. We have come a long way since the beginning of the season. To see that big of an improvement in that short of time is amazing and I couldn’t ask for anything more. We are going to continue working and keeping the girls positive. We look forward to playing Sebring and Mulberry next week.”
Lake Placid’s Sayra Cortes led the Green Dragons in shots on goal with 11. Ramirez and Edith Cortes each had 6 shots on goal for Lake Placid.
The Green Dragons extended their lead in the second half when Cortes took a shot on goal that went across the top rail and fell back onto the field. Nitzellie Amaro kicked the ball into the back of the net for a goal increasing Lake Placid’s lead to 2-0 with only 1:25 left in the game.
Avon Park’s Amy Schlosser had 2 shots on goal but the Red Devils were unable to rally and fell short to the Green Dragons.
“With it being senior night it affects us in a way that they are a little too hyper and might kick it a little bit harder,” said Merlo. “I think that was the difference with the shots. It is emotional for me because it is my daughter’s (Gabi Merlo) senior year. That added to the game because I really wanted them to win this one and I am glad they did. This was a fun game. I give all the credit to Avon Park because they are improving and improving. These games used to be 10-0 and now all their games are 2-1, 3-1 all close games. Coach Sboto is doing a great job over there at Avon Park. I am really proud of their girls they play clean, they play fair and they play hard. They give it their all, all the time.”
The Green Dragons will travel to DeSoto to face the Bulldogs on Monday. Lake Placid’s next home game will be against the Fort Meade Miners on Tuesday at 8 p.m. The Red Devils will host the Mulberry Panthers Tuesday.