The Sandcrabs will face Spruce Creek in the Five Star Conference championship game Jan. 13 at Taylor High School.
The Seabreeze Sandcrabs girls soccer team kicked off the Five Star Conference tournament against the Pine Ridge Panthers Jan. 8 at a relatively slow pace but walked away with a 7-1 win.
Seabreeze followed that win with a 4-0 victory over Flagler Palm Coast -- their second win over the Bulldogs this season -- on Jan. 11. The Sandcrabs (10-4) will meet Spruce Creek for the conference championship on Thursday, Jan. 13
Coming off of a tough win against the physical Lecanto Panthers the previous night, the Sandcrabs started the game against Pine Ridge at a sluggish pace.
Just before the first water break, head coach Eli Freidus told his starters they had five minutes to score before he put in his bench. Time elapsed and the coach made good on his promise, replacing almost his entire starting lineup after the break. Caroline McNerney came in and scored the first goal of the game just before halftime.
“The lack of energy, that’s what bothers me,” Freidus said. “That’s not what championship teams do. Championship teams find a way to improve on what they’re doing. They figure it out on the field.”
After the bench had shifted the momentum of the game, the starters were back on the field after halftime. The team's leading scorer, junior Emily Myers, scored back-to-back goals bringing the score to 3-0 early in the second half.
“The whole bench was put in after the water break,” assistant coach Christine Goebel said. “That kind of sparked things.”
Once they were revitalized, the Sandcrabs refused to let up. Taylor Hughes, Katey Collins and sisters, Billie and Banner Best-Abramowitz rode the momentum with a goal each while Morgan Long added three assists to give her eight for the season. Chelsey Hunt kicked the lone goal for the Panthers late in the second half.
Seabreeze is ranked fourth in the state in Class 4A by the Florida High School Athletic Association.
Flagler Palm Coast advanced to the semifinal with a penalty-shot victory over tournament host Taylor.
FPC’s head coach Pete Hald brought 31 years of experience and a well-coached team to the pitch.
“Their team is big,” Goebel said. “Bigger doesn’t always mean anything, but they are skilled and strong.”
Seabreeze got the game rolling with a goal by Annabel Thistle in the first five minutes. The Bulldogs did not have an answer to the attack as Kylie Watson scored just before the half to make 2-0. Brianna Chesley scored two goals in the second half to finish off the victory.
Seabreeze will be meeting Spruce Creek for the second time this season. The Sandcrabs beat the Hawks 5-2 on Dec. 16.
“If we can keep our touches clean and our passes clean, we are tough to beat,” Freidus said.