AUBURNDALE - The only Class 3A-District 11 team to score on Auburndale this season had no such luck Friday night. The Bloodhounds cruised past Sebring at the Lake Myrtle Sports Complex in the district championship game by a score of 7-0, securing a home match in the state regional quarterfinals.
The district runner-up also qualifies for the playoffs, but the Streaks will now have to play the quarterfinal match on the road at Merritt Island.
"We got a little bit unorganized on defense early," said Sebring coach Keith Bowyer. "I just don't have a lot to say about our play tonight."
The win improved Auburndale to an impressive 17-6-1 overall and 11-0 in district play. Sebring dropped to 8-8-2 and 6-4-1. The Bloodhounds will host Class 3A-District 12 runner-up Eau Gallie while the Streaks travel to Merritt Island to face the Mustangs.
Auburndale got all seven goals from different players. Chase Hovious opened the scoring for the Bloodhounds, booting in a goal only two minutes into the game. Robert Bramble added the second goal at the 10th minute and Calahan Warren blasted in a penalty kick in the 13th minute. Auburndale netted one more goal before the half, as Kendy Pierre snuck a shot past Streaks goalkeeper Brandon Bowyer to give the Bloodhounds a commanding 4-0 lead at the break.
The Streaks scoring opportunities in the first half were few and far between. And in the second half, they were close to nil.
"I wish we would've played better," Bowyer said. "But I did see some guys step up tonight, especially Austin Westergom. He was really trying to take on a leadership role."
Auburndale continued its relentless pace in the second half, scoring three more goals in the romp. Elijah Sample knocked in penalty kick at the 45th minute and Dalton Dowd followed with a free kick from close to midfield that sailed just over Bowyer's finger tips.
The Bloodhounds scored their final goal of the match on a penalty kick, as Sean Horrigan blasted the ball into the top right corner of the net.
Larry Gilchrist led two potential scoring breaks for Sebring late in the match, but Auburndale goalie Clayton Steele laid out to make two spectacular blocks to preserve the shutout.
Friday's game was littered with yellow cards. The match was fiercely physical, with neither side shying away from a collision while players jostled for the ball. Gilchrist took the brunt of the action, continually getting tackled while in the box. All told, each side combined for more than 10 yellow cards.
But the future is bright for the Streaks.
While Sebring loses irreplaceable seniors like Westergom, Filemon Chavez, and Brian Dixon, a solid nucleus remains that should guide the Streaks to success over the next five years.
Gilchrist, arguably the team's best pure scorer, is only a sophomore. Mitchell Winslow, Ben Perez, Wesley Koning, and Bowyer, all juniors, return as well.