The Weeki Wachee Varsity Girls Soccer team (6-3) defeated the Hernando Leopards (3-5-2) by a commanding 5-1 margin at home on Wednesday night. While both teams’ seasons have seen ups and downs to this point, Weeki Wachee has generally been trending positively, while Hernando has been the inverse. Since the two teams last played, the Hornets have won three out of their last four, and the Leopards have not won a contest since downing the Green and Black in November. Hornets Head Coach Tom Pellito was pleased with his team’s performance and noted a couple of aspects that have changed since their last meeting.
“I’m very happy,” Coach Pellito said. “We just started a new formation, and it’s really clicking with us. We had played them right before Thanksgiving break, but it was the third game in the week, so we were very exhausted. So, we were much more well rested this time, so we got a better result.”
Though the game would swing in the home team’s favor in a hurry, the contest looked like it might be a defensive battle early. For almost the first 14 minutes, neither side allowed the other much wiggle room, with few legitimate scoring opportunities for either squad until the game’s first goal. That is when Junior Jillian Aldrich fired the ball to the back right corner of the net just beyond the goalkeeper’s outstretched hands. Then it was off to the races for the home team. With just under 20 minutes remaining in the first half, Aldrich struck again. The Weeki Wachee captain took a breakaway opportunity and rifled the ball into the goal as Leopard defenders approached. Hernando’s goaltender would even get a piece of the ball, but she was unable to repel it completely. That was not it for the talented junior, though, as Aldrich would complete the hat trick before the intermission. With 3:19 remaining in the half, she found herself scoring by way of another breakaway goal. Coach Pellito did not mince words when discussing Aldrich’s importance to the team.
“She is, I think, at 23 [goals] for the season now,” Coach Pellito said. “She is indispensable. She’s a very key component for the team… I can’t say enough good things about her – very valuable.”
While the good times would keep rolling for the Hornets in the second period, there was a short span where Hernando looked to be threatening. In the span of two minutes, the visitors scored by way of a corner kick and had another would-be goal called back due to offsides. Once this early second-half stretch passed, it was all Hornets yet again. Senior Monica Bierwirth would regain momentum for the Green and Black as she received a pass near the goal and snuck it in to ice the game at 4-1. Weeki Wachee Senior Jade Euceda would finish the scoring for the evening as she handled the ball between two defenders and fired it into the left side of the net. Moving forward, the Hornets’ head coach feels the team still has work to do on certain schemes but feels they made progress on Wednesday night.
“Set pieces like corner kicks and goal kicks.” Coach Pellito said. “With our new formation, our mids have some different responsibilities. So, they’re getting there. Second half we started to actually do more of what we were supposed to.”
On Friday night, 12/9, the Leopards finally got back in the win column when they hosted South Sumter Raiders, winning 8-0. They play Springstead (6-2) tonight, Monday 12/12, at home at 7:30 pm. As for Coach Pellito and the Hornets, they continued their positive momentum beating the Central Bears 8-0 in a rare weekend tilt on Saturday afternoon, 12/10. Tonight, Monday 12/12, they travel to play Crystal River (1-10) at 7:45 pm.