ORANGE PARK – Two first half goals fueled a 2-1 district 4-3A win for Ridgeview High over Matanzas on Dec. 1 that keeps the Panthers at least back in the conversation as top team in the district …
ORANGE PARK – Two first half goals fueled a 2-1 district 4-3A win for Ridgeview High over Matanzas on Dec. 1 that keeps the Panthers at least back in the conversation as top team in the district with Orange Park and Ridgeview both unbeaten in district play in the early part of the season. Ridgeview took on three region playoff teams from 2017 and came away with a 1-1 tie with Paxon in the season opener on November 9, a 2-1 win over Ponte Vedra on November 13 and a 2-1 win over Matanzas on Fri., Dec. 1 to open the season with three huge wins. Ponte Vedra, the 2016 Class 3A champion, is the defending district 4-3A runnerup to Matanzas and a Class 3A semifinalist last year losing to eventual champion Daytona Beach Seabreeze in the state semifinal game. Paxon was the district 3-3A champion and lost to Ponte Vedra in the region quarterfinal. Matanzas lost to Stanton in their region quarterfinal.
“We got a good effort against Ponte Vedra and I think catching them early in the season was our advantage,” said Ridgeview coach Paul Tomaro, now 3-0-1, 2-0. “They tend to get stronger as the season progresses because they get a lot of kids to tryout and have to find the right combination of players. They will be a different team in a month.”
For Tomaro, his win over Matanzas came with two first half goals and a strong defensive effort in the second half led by goalie Adam Mineo and center defender Charlie Barrett. Ridgeview’s first goal came off a free kick to the right of the Matanzas goal by Miguel Ortiz that found Charlie Barrett floating in front of the net at 13:50 of the first half.
Tomaro’s offensive strategy revolved around the speed and dexterity of Ortiz, senior Andy Prestridge and Dante De Santis moving the ball from left to right searching an opening.
Junior Cameron Sharp, a 6’-3”striker, is a key to the Tomaro strategy with his strong runs into the goal box attracting attention and opening up lanes for Prestridge or Ortiz.
“Miguel has been our top scorer, but Andy is right with him,” said Tomaro. “They work well together and don’t crowd the box. Dante is one of the main passer up top.”
Ridgeview’s second goal against Matanzas came on a breakaway from Prestridge just before the halftime break as he broke past three Matanzas defenders for a straight shot from about 20 yards out with 1:20 left in the half.
At Orange Park High, the Keystone Heights High Indians took a 2-1 non-district win over the Raiders (4-1) also on Fri., Dec. 1. The Raiders have wins over Clay, Palatka, St. Augustine and Baker County with a Tues., Dec. 5 district game at home against Ponte Vedra.