By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
ENGLEWOOD — Lemon Bay High School found a way to keep Charlotte’s Caitlyn Lowery in check through the first 50 minutes on Monday night.
But over the next 12 minutes, Lowery took over the match, and was involved in each of the Tarpons’ four goals on the way to a 4-0 win.
“At the half, I pointed out the things I saw,” Tarpon coach Amanda Carr said. “I also like to ask the players for their input to find out what they see. (Lowery) gave her input, and we went with it. That’s how we became so dominant in the second half.”
Twice Lowery assisted a goal, and then came back a few moments later for a score of her own.
Lowery’s assist in the 50th minute set up what turned out to be the game-winner, on a perfect pass to the foot of Anacely Zervos, who found the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
“I saw she was wide open, so I just passed the easy ball to her, and she finished it,” said Lowery, who scored her fifth and sixth goals of the season Monday night. “We were trying to force through balls (in the first half), so at halftime, we said play to feet, and it worked.”
She took eight shots on the night, and scored on her sixth and eighth attempts at the 53rd and 62nd-minute marks. Both times Lowery took advantage of Manta Ray miscues to get behind the defense, and found enough room to take a shot at goalkeeper Alexandra Gassman.
“We have about four players out who contribute to our team, so we didn’t have the legs (in the second half) and we were tired,” Lemon Bay coach Katie Cooke said. “I just didn’t have enough people to rotate in. After the first 50 minutes, we contained, but then we had a breakdown as far as communication in the back and having tired legs.”
Lemon Bay (1-1) had an opportunity early in the match to take a lead, when Charlotte (2-1) goalkeeper Cheyenne Gaudemer tackled Manta Ray Hope Robson in the box in the seventh minute. Robson took the penalty kick, and had Gaudemer guessing the wrong direction, but rang the free shot off the post to keep the match scoreless.
Gaudemer made nine saves in the win to record her second shutout of the season. Erin Larkin had the Tarpons’ third goal of the night in the 60th minute.
Gassman, who was not the planned goalkeeper for the season, had eight saves on the night.
“She played field for us last year, but she volunteered to go in goal for us, and she’s done a phenomenal job.” Cooke said.
In addition to missing goalkeeper Taegan Chakrin for the season with an injury, the Manta Rays were without top forward Summer Rusher and top defender Marissa Nebel, who are both battling injuries.