Seabreeze gave up a goal in the closing seconds of overtime as Pine Ridge won the district championship. But the Sandcrabs' season isn't over.
BY MATT MENCARINI | STAFF WRITER
With 15.8 seconds left in overtime Friday, Jan. 25, Pine Ridge’s Joe O'Sullivan beat Seabreeze High School goalie Jack Thompson for the game-winner, giving the Panthers a 2-1 win.
“We were not good enough,” head coach Nik Efremoski said. “And that’s the end of it. We were not good enough.”
Pine Ridge controlled most of the game, including most of the 10-minute overtime session, but it was Seabreeze that had the ball as overtime came to an end.
A Sandcrab turnover led to O’Sullivan’s chance to end what became a physical game with a no shortage of trash talking. There were even a few words exchanged between Seabreeze fans, lined up against a fence no more than 20 feet from the sideline, and a few Pine Ridge players.
But Seabreeze’s problems Friday night went beyond an overtime turnover. The Sandcrabs didn’t play at the same level Efremoski had seen during the regular season.
“We failed to play the ball out of the back,” he said. “They pressured us pretty good. But even when we tried to clear it, we weren’t good enough to do that.
“We committed way too many individual mistakes -- missed controlling the ball, misplacing the ball, not clearing the ball the way we should. They punished us twice for that, and that’s the way it goes.”
The first Pine Ridge goal came off a penalty kick, and tied the game with 29 minutes left in the second half.
Jacob Putting gave Seabreeze its lone goal and lead with 9.4 seconds left in the first half, on a free kick. Seabreeze players had to rush to get into position to give Putting a chance to create a scoring opportunity.
The loss came a day after Seabreeze beat Winter Springs 4-2, and with the Sandcrabs continuing to play with injuries, including Justin Merkel, who tallied a goal the night before but only played in the second half and overtime against Pine Ridge.
Efremoski hoped the next few days after the loss would help players like Merkel get healthy, because the Sandcrabs’ season isn’t over. The regional playoffs start Wednesday with Seabreeze on the road.
“I don’t think we have to change too much,” Efremoski said. “We have to go back to the things we were doing a few weeks ago, and just get comfortable with the ball again and realize that one loss does not set us back. We just have to keep going and play our game.”
This article was updated at 1:57 p.m., Jan. 28.