By Bruce Robbins, Sun Correspondent
ENGLEWOOD — A flurry of goals in the first half were enough to give Lemon Bay a 4-2 victory over Cypress Lake in a Class 3A-13 girls soccer district matchup Monday night at Veterans Stadium.
The Panthers took a 1-0 lead eight minutes into the contest when Cassidy Kerkesner scored on a free kick. But the lead didn’t last long as Summer Rusher got the equalizer for the Mantas just two minutes later.
Two minutes after that, Stephanie Tieu took a pass from Erica Mulvaney up the middle and put the ball past Cypress Lake goalkeeper Adrianne Baker into the corner of the net to give Lemon Bay the lead for good.
The Mantas struck again five minutes later on a goal by Angelina Beach. Madison Ragazzone took shot from outside the box that Baker deflected, but couldn’t corral. Beach rushed in to put the ball away and give Lemon Bay a 3-1 lead.
The final Manta goal came off the foot of Hope Robson, who took a through ball from Rusher and buried a shot from just outside the 18 yard penalty box to make it 4-1 at halftime.
But despite dominating play for much of the second half, the Mantas were unable to score again.
“I’m still going to blame it on some players being out and us not being able to get settled just yet,” Lemon Bay coach Katie Cooke said. “We’re still moving some players around to figure out what combinations are going to work best for us. We had some communication errors and did some of the little things wrong that we should be able to do, such as trapping the ball across our bodies and lifting our heads up when we play balls through. Those kind of things hurt us tonight.”
The only goal of the second half was scored by the Panther’s Emily Dean with about eight minutes to play to close the gap to 4-2, but Cypress Lake would not threaten again.
“Overall we came out with a win, so as a coach you can’t be unhappy with that,” Cooke said. “At the same time, I’d like to see them use some of the things we’ve been working on in practice. I’d like them to play a little sharper.”
Lemon Bay is now 4-2 overall on the season and 2-0 in District play.
“Those other games are nice, but we consider them tuneup games, and when it comes to district play, those are must win games,” Cooke said. “All in all, the girls came out, they did their job and they won the game that they had to win.”