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Thursday, July 18, 2024
HomeSportsSoccerHornets Use Strong Second Half, Win Big Over Leopards

Hornets Use Strong Second Half, Win Big Over Leopards

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The Weeki Wachee Hornets (6-4) dominated the Hernando Leopards (0-9) by a 7-1 margin on a chilly Thursday night at the Hornets’ Nest. The schedule had not been kind to the Leopards as they had been shutout in every matchup after their season opener, and it did not get much kinder for them on the road. Weeki Wachee had started the season off with a 5-1 record but had struggled during a three-game skid heading into Thursday’s matchup. The timing was right for the Hornets to get the winless Leopards at home, though the Green and Black were without their head coach for the evening. Assistant Coach Nate Brooks, who stepped in for Head Coach Michael Mullen, was pleased with the team’s performance while also offering a critique.

“They did well,” Coach Brooks said. “Coach Mullen is away for a family wedding but, yeah, they did well. I would’ve liked them to possess, pass, and not force things a little bit but, yeah, they played really well. I’m proud of the outcome of it.”

Both sides started the contest with solid defense. While neither team put points on the board until nearly 14 minutes in, Weeki Wachee possessed the ball on Hernando’s side of the field for most of that stretch. That did not bode well for the Leopards as Hornets Senior MF Eli Smith scored the first of his three goals of the evening. Senior D/MF Cory Fengarinas also got in on the scoring action less than two minutes later before logging an assist on a goal by Senior Striker Dylan Freshwater later in the second half.

“Eli Smith, he scored a hat trick,” Coach Brooks said highlighting some exceptional performances after Thursday’s matchup. “That’s fantastic. I think he was definitely a standout for us. [Senior MF] Hunter Bishop and Cory Fengarinas, always great. So, I would say those three really stood out tonight for sure.”

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Head Coach Nick Champney’s Leopards appeared to show some improvement over their earlier incarnations as they logged their first score since game one against the Hornets. Their lone point of the evening came on a penalty kick by Junior DEF Edgar Jaimes with under 15 minutes left in the first period. The home team would continue to live on Hernando’s side of the field, though, and the score would eventually reflect that.

Weeki Wachee, 7 , Elijah Smith shoots past the defense by Hernando High, 7, Ernie Gray Thursday at Weeki Wachee High. Photo by Joe DiCristofalo
Weeki Wachee, 7 , Elijah Smith shoots past the defense by Hernando High, 7, Ernie Gray Thursday at Weeki Wachee High. Photo by Joe DiCristofalo

After heading into the half up 3-1, the Hornets poured it on quickly in the second. Barely three minutes after the break, Smith and Freshwater scored a pair of goals less than 30 seconds apart to balloon the score to 5-1 and put the game essentially out of reach. Freshwater would later score his second and Smith would complete the hat trick just after the water break to finish off the scoring. Despite the strong outing, Coach Brooks reiterated that he wants his players to work on not forcing the ball when the play is not there.
“Just ball control, not forcing things, not forcing pass, not forcing shots,” said Coach Brooks. “Just getting into that 18-yard box before taking a shot maybe, stuff like that. Just ball control, moving it.”

Heading into their next matchup, the Leopards will look to finally put a “1” in the win column when they travel to take on the Gulf High School Buccaneers (0-9). The Purple and Gold will face off in this battle of winless teams on Monday. The Hornets will host the Crystal River Pirates (1-7) on Tuesday. Coach Mullen and company will hope to build momentum heading into the back half of their schedule next week.

Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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