Dragons ousted in quarterfinals

LAKE PLACID - The Lake Placid girls soccer team ended its remarkable season with a loss Thursday night in the Class 2A-Region 3 quarterfinals against Tampa's Academy of the Holy Names. The Jaguars (16-2) defeated the Green Dragons (13-5-3) by a score of 6-0 at Roger Scarborough Memorial Stadium, getting all six goals from different players.

"The girls came out very focused and very confident in their game play," said Holy Names coach Kareem Escayg. "They executed on all levels."

Lake Placid opened the match with a flurry of shots on goal, but Mary Grace Bates, the Dragons best scorer, was always just wide of the net.

The Dragons' dearth of scoring eventually proved costly, and Holy Names' Julia Lester booted in a cross kick from the corner in the ninth minute to give the Jags a 1-0 lead. Julia Metzger added another goal just before the half to give Holy Names a 2-0 lead going into the break.

"It was a tough game. But I felt that the first 15-20 minutes, we were with them," said Dragons coach John Merlo. "Unfortunately, we have a few players sick - Hannah (Waller) and Stephanie (Bennett) are both really sick with the flu - they're dying out there. So after you get that adrenaline rush out of the gate, you just run out of gas."

The Jags wasted little time in adding to their lead in the second half. Audrey Cooper tapped in a pass from Gabrielle Tremonti in the 54th minute to give Holy Names a commanding 3-0 lead. Tremonti netted her own goal at the 61st minute and Alana Adams joined the scoring frenzy in the 67th minute when she knocked in a header to make it 5-0. Hannah Menendez capped the scoring for the Jaguars, blasting a penalty kick into the top right corner of the goal in the 77th minute.

"Once they started scoring, that was it," Merlo said. "But we had a chance at the beginning, and I was very proud with their effort."

The Dragons resolve didn't go unnoticed. Escayg said he considers beating a district champ a crowning achievement.

"It's always huge when you're playing a district champ," he said. "You know they're going to be good. And not taking anything away from them, but our girls stepped up to the challenge."

Lake Placid will be undergoing somewhat of a face lift in the offseason. The Dragons lose co-captains Waller and Bennett to graduation, along with Ana Ramirez, Claire LeBlanc, Sonia Becerra. Their trio of forwards - Chelsea Whitmire, Jenna Blount, and Kayla Beevis - will be graduating as well.

"We'll be losing most of our center-mids, but we're still going to be strong defensively," Merlo said. "And having Tamija (Douglas) at goalie, I mean what can you say, she's amazing."

Despite the lopsided defeat, Merlo said he was very proud of what his team accomplished this season.

"Our goal was a district championship," he said. "We did that. And we take it one step at a time. So I was telling the underclassmen, our next step is regionals - getting that first regional win."

"And after staring slow at the beginning of the season, and having to wait on other girls to come over from other sports, I was just so proud of the girls. They came together, overcame injuries, and picked it up when they needed to and we rolled off a big 11-1 stretch late in the year. And I think we have the talent to get back here next season."