Dragons bounce Brahmans
LAKE PLACID - Highlands County hasn't been a very hospitable place for Okeechobee. Especially for soccer. The Brahmans girls soccer team dropped contests to Sebring and Avon Park earlier this month, and Monday night Lake Placid completed the sweep, thumping Okeechobee by a score of 3-0 at Roger Scarborough Memorial Field. "We looked great," said Lake Placid coach John Merlo. "When the starters were in, we played really well. I liked what I saw."Save for an Okeechobee (0-4) shot on goal near the beginning of the match, the Green Dragons dominated the Brahmans from start to finish. Captain Hannah Waller opened the scoring for Lake Placid (1-2), netting her first goal of the season in the 11th minute. Stephanie Bennett then set up Brisia Fonseca with a stellar assist, and Fonseca floated the ball in just over the goal keeper's head in the 15th minute to give Lake Placid a commanding 2-0 lead. A short time later, Brittany Fraginals capped off the scoring when she booted another floater that drifted into the net. Mary Grace Bates knocked in what would've been the fourth goal of the match, but it was negated by an offsides penalty. The Dragons totaled 15 shots on goal in the first half alone. Lake Placid controlled the ball for much of the second half. Scoring opportunities were few and far between, but the Dragons did pepper a few shots at Okeechobee's goalkeeper and had a few shots from the cross fall short. Although the Dragons didn't score in the second half, Merlo said he was proud of the effort from the second string and that his team didn't give up a goal. There was a bit of a scare though, when Dragons goalie Tamija Douglas had a ball go through her legs before she knocked it away. "We even went as far as the third string in that second half," Merlo said. "They played a good 10-15 minutes and we kept the ball on Okeechobee's side of the field. "And when you can go that deep into your bench and not give up any scores, it means we're getting there." This impressive output came primarily thanks to some added roster depth. Merlo recently got a handful of players back, a few of which were starters, from other sports that just concluded their season, including swimming and volleyball. "As a unit, we're just going to look a lot better," he said. "We have yet to practice one time with everyone back. That's why I wasn't upset about the losses to Sebring and DeSoto - I know what we're going to do." That doesn't mean that Merlo hasn't found things for his team to try and improve on. "We had a lot of shots hitting the post," he said. "And I like that, that's good, but we need to work on our communication. "We're looking down the road, but with a little bit more practice, I think we'll get there." After opening with three straight nondistrict games, Lake Placid plays back-to-back Class 2A-District 10 games this week. The Dragons were on the road against Frostproof Tuesday but results were not available at press time. Lake Placid's next district foe also comes on the road, as the Dragons travel to Lakeland to face the McKeel Academy Wildcats. "That's just the way they scheduled us," Merlo said. "But we're ready."