By Bruce Robins, SunCoast Sports
NORTH PORT — Mark Horvath and Blake Dean scored three goals apiece as Lemon Bay rolled to a 9-1 victory over Imagine School of North Port in a non-district game Thursday night.
The Manta Rays dominated play against the overmatched Sharks, as coach Emilio Baradith substituted freely during the contest, often putting in the entire JV squad at the same time.
“I tried to let everybody play,” Baradith said. “We haven’t been having a great year. You have to give it to the opponent. They tried everything they could. We had 22 players and they had 10. It’s like playing two teams at the same time, it’s just not fair for them.”
Imagine hung with the Mantas for a good portion of the first half. Horvath put Lemon Bay (3-6) up early in the opening minutes of the game, but when the teams paused for the mandatory water break midway through the half, the lead was still 1-0.
Horvath made it 2-0 with ten minutes to go before halftime, and Dean scored twice in the final five minutes of the period to send Lemon Bay to intermission with a 4-0 advantage.
Imagine (0-6) got on the board first in the second half as Mark Al-Anarsi put a shot past backup goalkeeper Conner Jakelis to make it 4-1. At that point, the Mantas put their starters back in, and soon after that, Liam Ryan scored to make it 5-1.
Matias Carbone followed with another goal, then Diego Hernandez scored to increase the margin to 7-1.
Horvath completed his hat trick to make it 8-1, and Dean’s tally in the 65th minute ended the game as the eight-goal mercy rule went into effect.
“The name of the game tonight was to move the ball,” Sharks coach Cody Garner said. “We kind of did that, but it’s a brand new team and we’re just trying to find our feet. We’re going to keep working, we’re going to play them again and we’re going to have better luck. The whole point is trying to build up the team. We’ve got a lot of things to fix on and off the field.”
The Mantas enjoyed a 26-2 advantage in shots. Imagine goalie James Bryne made 11 saves, while Lemon Bay’s Shane Garner only had to make one.
“We won but you can see we’re not celebrating. It’s just a simple win,” Baradith said. “You have to give the other team credit. They have some good players over there, but you can’t play against 22 players. That’s all it was.”
“We started out a lot better than how we finished,” Garner said. “We’re not conditioned as much as they are. It takes time, but we’ll get there.”