By Zack Peterson
Lake/Lutz News Correspondent
A torrent of rain showers that flooded the playing field couldn’t water down Steinbrenner High’s potent offense, as the girls soccer team cruised to an 8-0 victory against Strawberry Crest High in the Class 4A-District 9 final.
Throughout the day Jan. 21, the conditions worsened with heavier floods of rain, making Warriors (16-2-2) home field sloppy and challenging to play on.
“It was not a day of rhythm with this weather,” said Warriors coach Teresa Patterson. “But I was proud of the performance despite the conditions.”
Although the rate of play was significantly altered by the difficult terrain, the ability to score was not. Steinbrenner’s dynamic offense took no time breaking through Strawberry Crest’s defense, scoring their first goal in the third minute of the game.
Throughout the first half, the Warriors worked steadily, chipping away at the Chargers defense with 17 shots. At the end of the first half, they stood with a 4-0 lead while caked with dried mud.
According to Patterson, the team’s priority was to look for framing goal situations, or what is known as deflection goals. After taking a shot on goal, the Warriors needed to crowd the box and look for another opportunity to follow up their prior shot with more pressure on the goalkeeper.
Even though slow rolling passes and unexpected skips and bounces frequently made it difficult to form a cohesive offensive attack, the Warriors overcame the conditions and followed their game plan.
“It took a lot of focus because it was muddy everywhere,” said senior Cici Gonzalez. “We had to make sure our passes were sharp.”
Several Warriors scored multiple times using their framing-goal strategy. Lauren Garris put in two goals and Gonzalez scored three times, completing her hat trick in the last 12 minutes of the game.
“It felt so good to score,” Gonzalez said. “I always want to score and it’s my job to on offense, but doing it in these conditions made it even better.”
With the victory, the Warriors move to the regional tournament for their second consecutive year. Last season, the Warriors squared off against Palmetto High and won 4-2. However, Lakewood Ranch High defeated them 2-1 the following game.
The Warriors have aspirations for this year’s regional tournament, but they are not getting ahead of themselves.
“I personally think if we focus on one game at a time and pay attention to the fine details we have a fine chance to be successful,” Patterson said.
“I’d like to see better execution (in the regional tournament) on set pieces like corner kicks or penalty kicks as well,” Patterson continued. “I’d like us to be cleaner in those situations.”
According to Gonzalez, in the end it’s all about their mindset.
“I know we have the ability to win,” Gonzalez said. “We just have to stay focused on one game, not get ahead of ourselves, and concentrate.”
Steinbrenner next plays at home Thursday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. against Seminole Osceola High.