The Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School boys’ soccer extended to four games its recent winning streak before falling to Wakulla Christian.
The Tiger Sharks, 6-4-1, finish the regular season tonight with a game at Bay High.
Port St. Joe hosts Franklin County 5 p.m. ET Monday in the opening round of district tournament play.
Port St. Joe 4, North Bay Haven 2
The Tiger Sharks have been experiencing a resurgence of sorts since coming back from Christmas Break, with three consecutive wins.
Marlon Lopez put Port St. Joe on the board in the fourth minute off corner kick from Elias Alexander.
Just 1:30 later, Lance Larry assisted as Lopez neatly beat the North Bay Haven keeper on a one-on-one to put Port St. Joe up 2-0.
With North Bay Haven picking up the pressure, Lopez earned a free kick and completed the hat trick to make it 3-0.
The Buccaneers continued to find gaps in the Tiger Shark midfield to score their first goal and the remainder of the half was played on even terms as the teams entered intermission 3-1.
The second half started much like the first half ended with both teams playing between the 18-yard boxes.
Just before the water break, Lopez received a pass from Chase Lanford, created separation on the left side to slot a pass to Larry who finished in the back of the net from the top of the six to grow the PSJ lead to 4-1.
As time started to tick down, NBH earned a free kick against and converted for a 4-2 margin, which was the final score.
“Our possession was better, but still very sporadic,” said Port St. Joe coach Don Maples. “It is on, it is off…consistency is our next step.
“We worked the ball out of some difficult spots, got better movement off the ball, made some quality decisions and executed with proper skill against a quality team. That is positive and considering some new players got time tonight makes it even better.”
Maples noted the improvement of younger players, Chase Lanford, Jaydon Gant and Christian Peacock as positives for the future of the program.
Wakulla Christian 8, Port St. Joe 0
The Tiger Sharks hosted Wakulla Christian, a team which beat them 5-0 loss earlier in the season.
“Last time we played, Joel Bogaert was still playing football, Will McCall was injured and even with a 29 player roster, our inexperience and youth showed in trying to fill those spots,” Maples said of the earlier game.
“No excuses, we have to step on the field with whomever is eligible, and available to play and deal with it.”
But the result was another shutout loss.
“This game was good for us and a curse for us at the same time,” Maples said. “Good that we had to play without Marlon Lopez for the first half, which leading into the district tournament is an opportunity for other players to step in and learn.
“It was also a chance to try players in new positions such as attacking mid-fielder for Ford Kuhnel. Bad, that we had other starters sick or absent, so seeing how we could truly match up wasn’t in the cards.”
Maples said his team came out “flat, uninspired, using little from what we have been training and when that happens, it is no recipe for being competitive let alone successful.”
Youngsters Judson Griffies, Tanner Fogle, Aiden Gainer, Jaydon Gant, and Monie Phillips got some significant time and some positives, including confidence, was shown.
“We had some good build up, created opportunities, one of which was a near miss from 20 yards out by Lance Larry,” Maples said.