By Bruce Robins, Sun Correspondent
By Gary Brown, Sun Correspondent
ENGLEWOOD — The Lemon Bay High School boys soccer team has had a habit of starting fast and not finishing strong this season.
Unfortunately for the Manta Rays, that problem resurfaced again Tuesday night. The Manta Rays lost 2-1 to visiting Mariner after scoring their only goal just a minute into the contest. Blake Dean took a pass from Liam Ryan and blasted the ball into the Tritons’ net. The score happened so quickly that it seemed like Lemon Bay would dominate the match throughout.
“We’ve had that problem we can’t seem to get over,” Lemon Bay coach Emilio Baradith said. “We always seem to start fast, then fall apart.”
That has hurt the Manta Rays a lot. They are now 3-5 in District 3A-13 and 3-7 overall.
Following the Manta Rays’ quick goal, they continued to put pressure on Mariner’s defense as they consistently put the ball in play near the visitors’ net. Lemon Bay’s Matias Carbone just missed a shot as it went off the bar about midway through the first half. The Manta Rays had eight shots on goal in the first half while the Tritons had only three.
But Mariner tied the score at 1-1 on a goal by John Franco off an assist from Joey Lane with just two minutes left in the first half. The score remained tied at halftime.
But the Tritons took the lead on a goal by Leo Perez about halfway through the second half. He scored off another pass from Lane. Ryan also tied the score with eight minutes left in the match as he fired the ball but it just missed scoring by inches.
Mariner had several more chances to score, but Lemon Bay goalie Shane Garner was outstanding in the net. He made two diving stops in the last five minutes to prevent the visitors from pulling further ahead. He finished with eight saves.
“He’s been outstanding,” Baradith said of his goalie. He’s the best I’ve seen in a long time. He’s a senior so I’ll be losing him after this season.”
The Manta Ray coach also praised the play of defender Max Minucci.
“He did very well for us,” Baradith said. “He was all over the field.”
The Manta Rays will play visiting Ida Baker at 7 p.m. Friday in a non-district match.