Local Sports

Streaks edge Dragons

LAKE PLACID - Against the backdrop of howling winds and frosty temperatures, Sebring overcame a one-goal deficit to beat Lake Placid Monday night by a score of 3-2 on what surely felt like the frozen tundra of Roger Scarborough Memorial Field.

The nondistrict win improved the Class 3A Blue Streaks to 12-7-1 while the Class 2A Green Dragons dropped to 9-4-3.

Sebring's victory also completed a season sweep of Lake Placid, as the Streaks opened the year with a 2-1 win over their county rivals.

However, in the waning minutes of the match, Streaks junior Haylee Peters broke her tibia after colliding with Dragons goalkeeper Tamija Douglas. Peters, who scored two goals against the Dragons, will likely be out for the rest of the season.

"That's the kind of thing you hate to see," said Sebring coach Richie Birdsall. "But she's tough. We know she'll be OK."

Meanwhile, during the match, Streaks goalkeeper Shannon Bloemsma kept a feisty Dragons offense under wraps.

Lake Placid started the match with a litany of shots on goal, with Mary Grace Bates finding the back of the net at the four minute mark to give Lake Placid a 1-0 lead.

But Bloesma was impenetrable for the rest of the half.

She deflected a variety of shots; getting airborne for many, and breaking up a myriad of headers with her fists. Her stellar defense kept the Streaks within reach while their offense struggled.

"She's been feeling under the weather," Birdsall said. "And I saw her over the weekend and she wasn't any better today. But she was easily our defensive MVP."

Peters got Sebring on the scoreboard midway through the first half. She broke free and had a one-on-one break with Douglas, and Peters was able to lure the goalkeeper away from the net. Once Peters had Douglas far from the box, she booted the ball over Douglas' head to knot the score 1-1.

Minutes later, Kiersten Waldron gave Sebring the lead when she sneaked a shot in past a cluster of Green Dragons to give Sebring the 2-1 advantage.

"It all changed after our water break," Birdsall said. "I basically just reminded them that they normally play harder than how they did, and they took that and responded."

"It was rough night to play with the wind, and I don't think either team played to their potential. But it's always good to beat a team as talented as Lake Placid."

In the second half, the Streaks had the momentum in the early going, and Peters notched her second goal of the match when she blasted a kick past Douglas at the 41st minute to give Sebring a commanding 3-1 lead.

But thanks to a rousing halftime speech from coach John Merlo, Lake Placid was playing with renewed passion.

Claire LeBlanc cut Sebring's lead in half at the 68th minute mark when she blasted a ball into the back left corner of the goal.

It was one of Bloemsma's few mistakes of the match. Despite controlling the ball for much of the second half, though, Lake Placid wasn't able to find the net again.

"You hate to lose a rivalry game like this," Merlo said. "But you're pleased when at least the match was hard-fought. And overall, I liked how we played in the second half."

"I know coach Birdsall wasn't too pleased with his girls performance - it was a little messy on both sides, and maybe we could count it off as coming back from Christmas break."

Lake Placid and Sebring wrap up the regular season this week.

The Dragons are at Class 3A Hardee tonight at 7:30 p.m. and return home Friday for Senior Night against Class 1A Moore Haven.

Sebring, meanwhile, will have its final home game tonight, also at 7:30, against Class 2A Frostproof at Firemen's Field. The Streaks finish the season at Class 4A Okeechobee.

Both the Dragons and Streaks have high hopes for their respective district tournaments. Lake Placid begins its quest for a 2A-10 district championship on Monday at Mulberry, while 3A-11 Sebring travels to Auburndale. Opponents are to be determined.