It was a good start for the Franklin County High School soccer teams last week, as both the girls and boys squads picked up their first season wins in their matchups against district foe Rocky Bayou in Niceville.
The girls squad, under the direction of coach Kelli Wright, notched a 2-1 triumph, while the boys squad, under coach Luis Ramon Valenzuela, tallied a 5-2 victory.
In the girls opener, the Lady Knights struck first with a goal with 10 minutes left in the first half to establish a 1-0 lead that carried through the end of the first half.
But strong second-half offensive play and counterattacks by the Lady Seahawks led to two exciting goals and many other scoring opportunities.
Five minutes into the second half, junior Jessica Shields served up one of her two great direct kicks into the box that resulted in a score. The first kick bounced to eighth grader Ali Zingarelli, who then assisted junior Gracyn Kirvin for the first Lady Seahawk goal of the match.
Roughly five minutes before the first water break, Shields served up her second free kick in the penalty box which Kirvin found a way to put it in the net for the second goal of the match. Kirvin totaled five shots on goal.
That would be all the Lady Seahawks needed to secure their first district win. “Sophomore Macey Hunt played another excellent game at goalkeeper with 12 saves,” said Wright. “She just keeps making great saves to keep our team in the game."
The coach said sophomore Katie Seger's goal line to goal line play kept the Lady Seahawks in the game. She also produced three shots on goal.
“I knew when she came off the field she was exhausted by the way she went to the ground to try to recover her energy,” said Wright. “Overall we are still developing our defensive backs and will get better each game.”
Both teams included a handful of young players. Zingarelli got her foot on a lot of balls in the middle of the field, and eighth grader Ali Kirvin contributed at forward to team success.
The win evened the Lady Seahawks record at 1-1, after the Franklin County varsity girls dropped a 4-1 match at John Paul II on Nov. 8.
In that match, in which John Paul senior Beatrice Menjor nailed a trio of goals, the Lady Seahawks trailed 1-0 at the half before John Paul exploded in the second half with three goals.
Franklin County managed its lone goal when Gracyn Kirvin sent it through the net on an assist from Shields. Junior Adrianna Reeder and Seger each managed two shots on goal.
The Lady Seahawks next match will be another district road test against rival Port St. Joe on Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 6 p.m.
Boys earn pasta meal with win
The Seahawks’ first district game was an exciting one, as they established they would be a force to be reckoned with this season.
“We went into the game with Rocky Bayou not knowing what to expect from their team,” said Valenzuela. “Obviously, we decided to play hard and smart and I could not be more pleased with the way our boys played. They demonstrated great ball control, ongoing communication, and performed equally as well both defensively and offensively.”
The squad amassed five goals, two from Graham Kirvin, two from Zack Howze and one from Josh Reeder. Two of the goals were from two penalty kicks against Rocky Bayou. Franklin County produced eight shots on goal and a save and 19 shots from Casey Sapp
“Stacy Kirvin and I told the boys if they won, we would cook pasta for them. We are pleased to do this for the team - they definitely gave it their all on the field,” said Valenzuela. “Each one of them played the way we wanted them to play, intensely and using the skills they learned at practice. The boys are noticeably becoming stronger players and they needed to win their first district game to build their confidence in their skills.”
The boys square off against arch-rival Port St. Joe in an away game Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 8 p.m. “We would like to invite our community to support both our boys and girls teams,” said Valenzuela. “This is going to be our second district game and the boys are excited to get out there and attempt a win again.”