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HomeLocal & StateEagles Shut Out Sharks in GC8 Championship

Eagles Shut Out Sharks in GC8 Championship

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On a chilly Wednesday evening, the Springstead Eagles (15-3-1) blanked the Nature Coast Sharks (9-6) by a 2-0 margin at Booster Stadium. Not only was it senior night for the home team, but it was also a playoff game to decide the winner of the Gulf Coast 8 Athletic Conference. Much like the rest of their season, the senior-laden Eagles used a strong outing from Senior Forward Ava Kanaar and company to take the victory. Springstead Head Coach Sarah Bell was pleased to see another dominant showing from her squad.


“I am so incredibly proud of these ladies,” Coach Bell said. “They really went out there and put their heart in it. It was senior night, so it was extra pressure on the line. My seniors said they wanted a tough game for their senior night. It was really exciting. So, they came through in a big way.”


The first half began as many of Springstead’s games this season have – with the home team spending most of the time with the ball on their opponent’s side of the field. Their matchup with Nature Coast was a little different, though, as the Sharks kept the score low by playing more defensively. This resulted in a plethora of scoring opportunities that were stopped in their tracks either near or by Sophomore Goalkeeper Kennedy Rasmussen. Kanaar finally broke through for her first score off a corner kick by Senior Forward Sarah Frazer. Frazer and fellow Senior Riley Bradley now have 22 and 20 assists on the season respectively. Kanaar took the kick from Frazer and rocketed the ball to the right of the goalie with 27:23 remaining in the first period for the only goal before the half.


Springstead High, 21, Sarah Frazer handles the ball near midfield marked by Nature Coast Tech, 20, Peyton Cheze. Photo by Joe DiCristofalo
Springstead High, 21, Sarah Frazer handles the ball near midfield marked by Nature Coast Tech, 20, Peyton Cheze. Photo by Joe DiCristofalo


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“I have been blessed with such a phenomenal team,” Coach Bell said. “I have Sarah Frazer and her impact in the middle [and] Riley Bradley. They are actually leading our team in assists. Having an elite scorer like Ava is great and having them being able to set her up is great because they just play phenomenally to give her the ball so she can do what she needs to do.”


During the intermission, the seniors were introduced one-by-one with descriptions and plans for after graduation. While she walked across the field, Kanaar’s description stated that she began playing soccer at five years old and currently holds the record for the 100-meter dash with 12.37 and the record for the 4×1. The senior plans to play Division 1 soccer for Campbell University after high school. Frazer, who also played two years of golf at Springstead, plans to play Division 1 soccer for the University of North Florida after graduation.


Kanaar would score the only other goal of the match at roughly the same point in the second as she had in the first. Just over 11 minutes after the break, the senior fielded a pass from the right side of the field, took the shot near the goalie, and fired the ball just past the outstretched hands of Rasmussen. The second frame would see the visitors spend more time on Springstead’s side of the field, but only a handful of true scoring opportunities presented themselves. As evidenced by the score, none of these attempts would breach the goal and the home team would go on to celebrate the GC8 victory.


Looking ahead to the next matchup, more postseason ball is on the horizon, but not for Nature Coast. While the Sharks’ season is over, the Eagles will travel to take on Villages Charter (7-3) at 7:00 on January 18. Coach Bell’s crew has now outscored their last 5 opponents 34-4 and they will hope to keep their strong year rolling when they face the Buffaloes on Friday.


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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