By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
ENGLEWOOD — The Ida Baker girls soccer team was just a little faster and more precise Monday night in a win against Lemon Bay.
April Sanchez scored two goals in the first 15 minutes of the match, leading the Bulldogs to a 3-0 win over the Manta Rays.
“They just drew blood first and I think it pumped up their confidence,” Lemon Bay coach Katie Cooke said. “My girls are still trying to gel. They haven’t had a game yet where all of our starters have been playing. In the beginning we maybe had some communication errors, and were flustered, but I was very pleased with the second half of the game.
Lemon Bay was out-played in the first half, but did a good job to close the gap after halftime, even though it didn’t show up on the scoreboard. There were plenty of moments where it looked like a Manta Ray was about to have a break away, but an Ida Baker defender would swallow the opportunity.
They took eight shots in the second half, which at one point was leading the Bulldogs, but Lemon Bay ended losing the shot total 20-13.
“They started pulling together,” Cooke said. “We got more chances on the ball. We were more equal on offense and defense. We have to work on our endurance and stamina. We also have to work on our through balls. They weren’t working in the beginning to play them on the floor, and this team was just too fast to play it on the floor.”
Hope Robson has emerged as the top offensive threat for the Manta Rays (2-2) so far this season, as she took six of the team’s 13 shots. Four of Robson’s shots came on a free kick for Lemon Bay, and on her best look, she rang one off the cross bar at the 38-minute mark.
“She played a beautiful game tonight. She’s really able to control the center of the park. When she’s on, we play phenomenal. She did a very good job of possessing the ball in the center of the park tonight and keeping our offensive push alive.”
Monday’s match was a physical one. The two teams combined for 23 fouls (12 for Ida Baker), with the Bulldogs (2-3) also taking three yellow cards.
Despite allowing three goals, goalkeeper Alexandra Gassman made a few big saves, ending the night with nine stops.
Sanchez scored her first goal in the third minute, and came back again in 15th minute to grab her second. Madison Lucas added the third goal in the 26th minute, and the Bulldogs spent the final 54 minutes protecting the three-goal lead.