The Sharks Close Out the Regular Season With a Bang
By Johnny Inama
The Ponte Vedra High School (PVHS) Sharks boys soccer team spent nearly a month on break and were scheduled to have their first game back against Seabreeze High School on Jan. 9, but due to inclement weather the game was postponed. The Sharks true first game back was against the Fleming Island High School (FIHS) Golden Eagles that were first place in the 6A D3 district coming into the game with a 3-0 district record and 10-3-1 overall record. The Sharks, despite a slow start to the season 1-6-3 record, played a very good first half as the defense squashed all opportunities and the attack did a good job at keeping the ball on the Golden Eagles half of the field. The Sharks could not convert on any opportunities through the first half, but they came out of the half and found their first goal as senior attacker, Jeffery Tillman, weaved through defenders and played an excellent ball to senior midfielder, Joey Stephens, who converted and put the Sharks up 1-0. The defense continued to smother the attack of the Golden Eagles for the entirety of the game, and the Sharks were able to close the game out with a score of 1-0. This was a very big win for the Sharks, as they started out the new year right to move their overall record to 2-6-3, and made their district record 1-0-1 which puts them atop the district with just one more district game remaining on Jan. 19 against Fletcher High School, which could be a very impactful game for the Sharks playoff hopes. “We need to just keep doing what we’ve been doing and the goal is to win districts,” said Stephens following the match.
The Sharks had two games left in the regular season, and were set to play on Jan. 16 against the Tocoi Creek High School Toros, but weather yet again pushed their game back to Jan. 17, but poor field conditions at PVHS caused the game to be played the following day on Jan. 17 at Tocoi Creek High School. The Sharks started the game with a strong attack, and converted just a few minutes into the game with a skillful goal coming from junior striker, Thomas Arndt, to put the Sharks up early. The Sharks continued to dominate as they kept the ball on the Toros side of the field for the majority of the first half, and they found the back of net again as Arndt scored his second goal of the game before the end of the first half. Coming out of the half up 2-0, the Sharks played with confidence and the defense continued to play very well, and the attack continued rolling with another goal coming from senior winger, Bobby Hitchcock, to shut the Toros out and end the game with a final score of 3-0.
The Sharks had one final game remaining against the Fletcher High School Senators, and due to the postponement of the game against Tocoi Creek High School, this game was now scheduled to be the senior night for the Sharks. This meant the whole starting lineup was set to be entirely made of seniors. The game started with a strong offensive attack from the Sharks, and they were able to score very early in the game as corner kick was converted by senior midfielder, Emanuele Abruzzini, to put the team up by a goal early. The attack continued to stay strong, and just a few minutes later, Hitchcock played a cross perfectly into the box, and Tillman played it to the back post of the goal to put the Sharks up 2-0. The team played in the Senators’ side of the field for the majority of the first half, and Senator defenders struggled to clear the ball as Tillman scored another goal before the half with several defenders in the box. This put the Sharks up 3-0 going into the half. The dominance by the Sharks continued into the second half, and the Sharks scored off another corner kick with an accurate header from senior center back, Will Ross, to expand the lead to 4-0. The onslaught continued as with just a few minutes remaining, the Sharks scored again as junior striker, Stanley Bishop, was played a ball into the box, and he converted to make it a final score of 5-0. This win was extremely important for the Sharks as it gave them a favorable position in the district playoffs, as they will now host the Fletcher Senators for the second straight game to kick off the 6A District 3 Playoffs on Jan. 26 as the Sharks look to go deep in the playoffs following a three-game win streak to end the regular season.
Photo courtesy of PVHS Soccer