By RUTH ANNE LAWSON
SEBRING – It was a physical, intense game Thursday night when the Sebring Blue Streaks hosted the Frostproof Bulldogs in a preseason match. The Bulldogs defeated the Blue Streaks by a final score of 3-2.
“Our goal for these preseason games was to give these players some minutes,” said Sebring Coach James Ashley. “It ended up working out because the game made us do it. Tonight it was a test to what a district game would look like. It was a battle and sometimes it doesn’t look like soccer and sometimes it is more about being ready for the hits and everything that comes along with possessing the ball.”
Sebring struck first and struck early with Kevin Rodriguez charging down field, Frostproof’s keeper came out to grab the ball from Rodriguez but missed. Rodriguez kicked the ball into the back of the net for a Sebring goal. The Blue Streaks had a 1-0 lead with 36:29 left in the first half.
The Bulldogs were encroaching on Sebring’s goal. Frostproof’s Roy Gordon and Sebring’s Rogilberto Socorro were battling for possession when the Blue Streaks’ goalkeeper, Bobby Cothran, came out to grab the ball by sliding toward it. Unfortunately Frostproof’s Gordon was unable to stop in time resulting in Cothran being kneed in the face with great force. Cothran was pulled from the game and sent to the hospital with a possible concussion.
It took Frostproof some time to get past the Blue Streak’s defense but Primitivo Garcia broke trough and shot the ball just over Sebring’s replacement keeper, Vinay Krishnadas, who leaped into the air to try to block the goal but Frostproof tied the game at 1-1 with 18:04 left in the first half.
“Our mid played really good tonight,” said Trace Lackey. “We got bodied around a lot tonight and it was tough loss but all around everyone fought through and we did good. I think we will have some hard matches this season but I think we will pull through. I think we will win most of them. I am super proud of my guys for hanging in there tonight and I hope we will do well this season. I think it affected us mentally losing our starting goalie. It hurt our team and made everyone mad. This season I want to win district and regionals.”
The Bulldogs took the lead when Sebring’s keeper came out to grab the ball from Frostproof’s Fernando Garcia. As Krishnadas approached Garcia, Garcia kicked the ball that bounced off of Krishnadas body and into the back of the net for a Frostproof goal putting the Bulldogs up 2-1 with 8:33 left in the first half.
Frostproof expanded their lead when Ervin Callejas kicked a penalty kick and found the back of the net with 26:08 left in the game. The Bulldog lead was 3-1.
Sebring narrowed the deficit when Jonathan Almeida charged down the field and took a shot on goal. Almeida made the shot but was injured when a member of the Frostproof team took a chunk out of his leg. Almeida was escorted off the field but narrowed the deficit to 3-2. Rodriguez and and Almeida each made two shots on goal for the Blue Streaks.
“The guys that we trained as our keepers did not get to finish out the game,” said Ashley. “We fought all the way to the end. As we play the season will determine our seeding for district play. It was a rough game and it is hard to play soccer when it becomes that. The refereeing becomes detrimental to the players. I never felt the game was out of hand for us to comeback. I was pleased.”
The Blue Streaks were unable to score again and Frostproof won the preseason match 3-2. Sebring’s first regular season game of the year will be Tuesday when they travel to Fort Meade to face the Miners starting at 8 p.m. The Blue Streaks’ first home game will be against the Hardee Wildcats on Friday beginning at 8 p.m.