Nature Coast Boys Soccer Head Coach Sal Calabrese secured win number 300 on December 12 when his Sharks took down the Lecanto Panthers by a 3-1 margin. Despite a less-than-ideal first half, according to Coach Calabrese, the Sharks pulled off the historic road victory on Tuesday. This gave the team its sixth win of the season en route to their current 8-2-2 record. It was a special moment and a crowning achievement in the coach’s 24-year career in the sport. As any good leader would, Coach Calabrese downplayed his contributions and chose to venerate his players.
“I wasn’t just me. It was over 24 years of all the players I had. I had some really quality players that all helped, and they were all involved in every one of those wins – every single one of them. Every one of the players that I’ve had get credit for up to 300. It is not just me; it is all the players involved. Got to give props to them.”
Win 300 was a joyous moment for everyone on Nature Coast’s staff and roster. The Shark’s victory over the Panthers required resilience, and, thanks to the head coach’s leadership, the squad in Columbia Blue navigated the tribulations of the first frame to a stronger second half. Senior Hunter Pye, Sophomore Isaiah Martinez, and Freshman Tanner Bennett scored the team’s three goals, while Cole Pretorius collected five saves to hold Lecanto at bay.
While the head Shark was humble in his description of the evening, Boys Soccer Director of Operations Coach Ian Wald was effusive in his praise of the veteran head coach. According to Coach Wald, Coach Calabrese’s combination of “old-school wisdom and modern compassion” gives the Sharks’ leader a unique style that allows him to connect with players and fans alike. Wald noted that there was a palpable “elation” from the 24-year coach following the completion of the long-anticipated milestone.
“Coach Sal Calabrese is not just a coach; he’s a mentor, a strategist, and a true aficionado of the game,” Coach Wald said. “With decades of coaching and playing experience, his passion for soccer is contagious. His work ethic, discipline, and intelligence shine through in everything he does. It’s not just about the wins for Coach Calabrese; it’s about instilling a love for the game and fostering the growth of each player.”
With the 300th win in the rearview mirror, the head coach is looking to get back to training and getting better heading into the last stretch of the schedule. This week provides a challenge on that front, though. With his squad playing three games over four days, the only practice session they can schedule is during their open block on Wednesday. The Sharks will travel to take on the River Ridge Royal Knights at 7:30 on Thursday night.
“We got quite a bit to do,” said Coach Calabrese. “It is starting to look okay. It could be better. Whatever training session we have, we try and work on something to try and get them a little better and get them prepared for the next match. This week is kind of tough as we had one last night, we have one tonight, and on Thursday. So, our only training session we have will be tomorrow and that is about it.”