Blue Streaks stomp 'Dogs

SEBRING - Larry Gilchrist has a knack for getting under a goalkeeper's skin.

He doesn't do it with trash talk. He doesn't do it with dirty play. He does it simply by bombarding goalies with shots, and he had Frostproof's Robbie Costine absolutely flummoxed Thursday night at Firemen's Field.

Behind a two-goal night from Gilchrist, the Streaks came back from a 1-0 deficit to win going away by a score of 3-1 over the Bulldogs.

The nondistrict win improved Class 3A Sebring to 6-4-2 overall, while Class 2A Frostproof dropped to 5-3-3.

"I'm really proud of the guys," said Sebring coach Keith Bowyer. "I think our chemistry was really on and so was our shooting and passing. It was an exciting match to watch."

Sebring was aggressive from the opening whistle. The Streaks had three shots on goal just minutes into the match. But the energy on offense wasn't matched by any scores, and Frostproof eventually got the better of Sebring in the early going, as Rolando Perez booted in a goal in the fifth minute.

In its last match, Sebring also got behind early, trailing 1-0 to county rival Avon Park. The Streaks battled back, but only managed one goal and the match ended in a 1-1 tie. That wouldn't be the case against the Bulldogs.

The calming words of Bowyer was all that was needed to refocus the Streaks:

"Let's get this one back," he said.

Wesley Koning answered his coach's rally cry, blasting in a goal from just a few yards out at the 15th minute to tie the game.

Ramping up their offensive intensity, Sebring kept the pressure on Frostproof by feeding the ball to Gilchrist. Eventually, he broke free and found himself with a one-on-one with Costine.

But before he could score, a Frostproof defender swooped in and broke up the potential goal by slide-tackling Gilchrist, who tumbled to the ground.

The collision drew a penalty card, setting up Gilchrist for a penalty kick. After settling himself, and giving Costine a lengthy stare down, Gilchrist calmly zipped the ball into the left side of the net. Costine never had a chance.

The go-ahead goal only demoralized Frostrpoof further. With the momentum in their favor, the Streaks continued to get the ball to Gilchrist, who eventually found the back of the net once more before halftime to give Sebring a commanding 3-1 lead going into the break.

"He had a great game," Bowyer said. "Larry had probably as many shots on goal as Frostproof's entire team."

The second half saw a jarring shift in officiating. The officials started handing out yellow cards like they were going out of style, even dealing one to Frostproof's coach.

With all of the chippy play, the match began to resemble a hockey game, with scrums happening practically every time a group of players gathered around the ball.

Sebring took the brunt of the penalties, as Hunter Livingston was ejected after receiving a double-yellow card.

"High school soccer changed its rules on double yellow cards - now two yellows count as a red and it's an automatic ejection." Bowyer said. "But Austin won't miss any of the next game."

Bowyer added that he was impressed with his players' resolve in handling the chippy play.

"I think we stayed pretty intense, but we stayed calm," he said. "That's a big thing. When the pressure goes up, you stay calm and you handle it, and we did."

Feeling the match slipping away from them, the Bulldogs mounted one final offensive attack to try and cut the deficit. But Sebring's Brandon Bowyer was solid, saving a myriad of goals with diving blocks to keep Frostproof off of the scoreboard in the second half.

The Streaks next match is against Class 3A-District 11 rival Auburndale.

Sebring will meet the Bloodhounds for the second time this season Tuesday night at Firemen's Field. Auburndale (10-0-1) previously defeated the Streaks 5-1 back in November. The match is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. for junior varsity and 7:30 for varsity.