Lady Spartans again in Final Four

Fri., Feb. 16 vs. Evangelical

By Ray DiMonda
Posted 2/14/18

ORANGE PARK – St. Johns Country Day School spread the joy Tuesday night in their region 1-1A championship against Geneva with seven players all scoring goals in the Spartans 7-0 win at St. Johns …

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Lady Spartans again in Final Four

Fri., Feb. 16 vs. Evangelical

Posted

ORANGE PARK – St. Johns Country Day School spread the joy Tuesday night in their region 1-1A championship against Geneva with seven players all scoring goals in the Spartans 7-0 win at St. Johns Country Day School.

On Fri., Feb. 9, St. Johns defeated Tallahassee Maclay 4-1 in their region semifinal with Payton Crews scoring three goals and Kamryn Towers scoring the fourth goal.

The win over Geneva puts the Spartans in the state semifinal on Friday, also at St. Johns, against Evangelical Christian (20-4) out of Fort Myers. St. Johns beat Evangelical last year in the state semifinal. Also in the Final Four are Lakeland Christian (22-0-2) vs. Miami Country Day School (18-3-2). Lakeland Christian, a perennial powerhouse with state playoff experience dating back to 1996, has been a frequent opponent of St. Johns in recent Final Four and championship games including last year’s final, a 2-0 Spartans’ win. St. Johns beat Evangelical Christian 5-0 in the state semifinal last year. St. Johns beat Lakeland Christian 6-0 in the 2016 state semifinal and 4-0 in the championship game in 2015.

“We had a few girls nicked up. When we had the lead, I took the opportunity to sit some players and get some other girls play time,” said St. Johns coach Mike Pickett, who is two games away from a seventh consecutive Class 1A title. after the 68th consecutive victory on Tuesday. “You can see, they did a great job. I’m very pleased tonight.”

Although the Spartans took until 26:18 left in the first to score, Geneva never got a single shot on goal all night.

“We concentrated on bringing the players higher than we normally do, trying to take away space defensively,” said Pickett. “We worked hard on that the last two weeks.”

In the first half, it was Spartan star Payton Crews that broke through for St. Johns as she scored her 12th goal in eight games. The netter with 26:18 left in the first half was fed over by senior Alisa Detlefsen. At the water break, the Spartans had six shots on goal and were constantly battering the Knights.

Feeling confident his team was not going to be stopped, Pickett took some precautionary measures and rotated his players.

With 14:20 left in the first half, Detlefsen had the ball passed over from a free kick, turned and blasted the Geneva keeper for goal number two. The Spartans began to get into their rhythm and the Knights had no answers for the onslaught. As the Spartans were working the ball in the corner, a Knight kicked it out of bounds, handing the Spartans another opportunity on a golden platter. Abbey Newton heard the call, waited for the exact second, and launched the ball on spot. Paige Crews was right on que, launched and blasted goal three past the deflated Knights.

At half, Pickett still wasn’t totally please with what he had and needed to start working on a plan for the assumed next game. “We were getting service, but just not making the runs in the box well enough. At half we made some adjustments and switched formations.” The Knights were not ready for the changes as evidenced by only 14 seconds into the second half when Abbey Newton put goal number four up on the board. Just to prove how well the adjustments worked, 32 seconds later, Maddie Wilkes took the feed from Lauren Weiss to put away goal number five.

After the last water break, the Spartans continued their offensive domination.

At 14:25 left in the game, Lauryn Mateo found herself all alone to the keeper’s right. With a perfect feed, she rocketed a shot off the keepers left shoulder to clock in goal number six.

The Spartan’s saved the best for last. After wowing the crown with her rendering of the Star Spangled Banner, JJ Schmidt was called out to place a corner kick in play.

“The call was for a bender” said Pickett. “She’s a young kid and when she hit the bender, she hit a hard, hard bender.”

The ball curved so hard that when players rushed to try and head the ball, it sailed over everyone’s head and straight into the back of the goal. No one touched the ball including the keeper and goal seven was an unassisted corner kick for the highlight reel.

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