The Nature Coast Tech Sharks Varsity boys soccer team (6-1) defeated the Springstead Eagles (5-2) by a tight 1-0 margin at home on a chilly Friday evening. Coming into the matchup, both teams had the same record and were enjoying four-game winning streaks. That would no longer be the case for the Eagles following a narrow loss at the Shark Tank. Besides their sole loss, the Sharks had not experienced a close game all season. Head Coach Sal Calabrese, and company had to be pleased with the team’s resolve.
So how did Coach Calabrese’s squad manage to defeat the visitors in white? The matchup was a hard-fought victory that saw players on both sides go down throughout the game. Heavy collisions and incidental contact abounded as both sides fought for control in the hotly contested match. Fortunately, all players made it off the field under their own power. A few even returned to the game shortly after being downed.
The first half began with Head Coach Dominic Coco’s team on the attack, putting pressure on the Sharks. However, it was not until shortly before the first and only goal of the game that Nature Coast began forcing the issue. Then, with just under 20 minutes remaining in the first half, the team in the light blue jerseys scored by way of a penalty kick. The goal was the direct result of a yellow card handed out to Springstead Junior Midfielder Joseph Arevalo following a collision deep on Nature Coast’s side of the field. Despite the fierceness of the matchup, that proved to be the only yellow card awarded to either side. On the ensuing penalty kick, Senior Zacary Arcidiacono snuck the ball inside the net just outside the outstretched hands of Springstead’s goalkeeper.
That still left 60 minutes of game time as the teams had not even reached the intermission, which meant the home team had to either continue to score or play strong defense. As evidenced by the score, the Sharks accomplished the latter. At every opportunity, Nature Coast midfielders put Eagles players in suboptimal scoring positions, and the Sharks’ goalkeeper nabbed every would-be goal to come his way.
Once the second half was underway, the visitors continued to push the ball into Nature Coast’s territory. With only a couple of minutes left in the contest, Springstead created a window for themselves with a corner kick by Freshman Midfielder Douglas Kelly. That kick was then headed out of bounds, setting up another corner kick by Sophomore Forward Raul Maldonado. As the ball flew toward the horde of players gathered near the goal, Nature Coast’s goalkeeper deftly swatted the ball out of the air and out of harm’s way. Springstead’s last gasp was unsuccessful as the Sharks celebrated a tough home victory.
The Eagles faced the Crystal River Pirates (0-6) at the Eagles’ Nest on Monday night and won 3-1. On Wednesday, 11/7, they will play Lecanto at 7:30 pm, in Lecanto. On Friday, 12/9, the Eagles play at home against Citrus Inverness.
The Sharks will play Central away at 7 pm on 12/7, then Crystal River at home on 12/9 at 7:30 pm.
12/13/22: Updated to correct the name of the NCT player that scored on the penalty kick.