On Monday night, the Springstead Eagles (17-3-1) dominated the Buchholz Bobcats (7-11-2) by an 8-0 advantage in the semi-finals of the 2024 Girls Soccer District Tournament – 6A District 4. The home team did more than just win big, though. Senior FORW Ava Kanaar broke a county record, the Eagles avenged a loss, and sent their opponent home early. Head Coach Sarah Bell was pleased to see her team’s preparation pay off for a matchup that was almost exactly a year in the making.
“Buchholz is a strong team, and they have a great coach,” Coach Bell said. “I know that they did lose a number of seniors from last year, but they still had their goalie and some of their other players that they had last year. Number 21 on them was another, their Strong Forward Zoey Torres. So, they still had a lot of things. We really sat down, we did film, we worked, saw what we could work on, and we were able to accomplish that tonight.”
When Kanaar stepped on the field on Monday evening, she needed the hat trick to break the county record for most goals in a season. The previous player to accomplish this feat was Nature Coast Tech’s Kennedy Weissman who set the bar at 63 goals during her 2019-2020 campaign. The Eagles’ senior would sprint past that milestone by scoring a whopping 6 goals before halftime. This brought her total to 67 during her final season and 180 over her entire career with the Red, White, and Blue.
The senior forward got the action started early on. The first five minutes saw the Bobcats apply some pressure, then Kanaar took over. After a first shot on goal bounced off GK Mimi Fisher. The visitors’ goalkeeper would do an admirable job blocking shots despite the score, but Springstead simply had too much firepower that night. Kanaar would log the first score moments later and it was off to the races mere minutes into the contest. Ava then took a pass minutes later from Senior FORW Sidney Anderson and fired it in the left side of the goal. That one tied the record.
Kanaar would have to wait a little longer as the next goal came courtesy of Junior FORW Lauren Anderson nearly 15 minutes in. A minute later, Weissman’s record would be shattered as the talented senior scored the first of four straight goals. She sprinted down the left side of the pitch, rocketed the ball across the field, and squeezed it just inside the right corner of the goal. Lauren Anderson would wrap things up with one final goal before the referees called the game at the half. This game meant a little more because of who the Eagles were playing as well.
“This is definitely a big redemption for us,” Coach Bell said. “Last year in the semifinal for districts, we faced off against Buchholz in Buchholz. Unfortunately, last year was a back-and-forth game. We came out and they actually beat us. It was 5-4, the final score of that game. So, playing again here at home, the girls had a lot to come out and prove. We worked hard, we prepared for it, they came out, and did what we needed to do.”
Looking ahead to the next matchups, Buchholz season is finished. With the Bobcats in the rearview mirror, Coach Bell and company will turn their attention to the district finals on January 31. Springstead will look to maintain their incendiary offense and stingy defense against the Forest High Wildcats (15-4-1) on Wednesday.