Boca Raton falls short in girls soccer state final

With one half left to play in the Class 5A girls soccer state championship match, the dream of winning it all was still very much alive for Boca Raton. Then, the Oviedo Lions showed why they are the best as they captured their fourth title in the past seven years with a 3-1 victory over the Bobcats on Friday at Spec Martin Stadium.

“It’s tough to come this close and not win the game, but I was proud of the way my girls fought hard and played hard,” Boca Raton coach Rachael Grimes said.

For the first 40 minutes, the teams looked evenly matched. Oviedo had a wide-open net but missed it 15 minutes before halftime. Then Boca Raton actually put the ball in the net nine minutes later but the goal by Alexa Coy was waved off because of an offsides penalty.

“It looked like it was probably the right call,” Grimes said.

The first goal of the match would come 8:57 into the second half, when Madi Allen kicked a line drive that Bobcats goalie Jane Nordhagen got both hands on, but the ball spun over her and into the net. It was a difficult goal to surrender, but not as difficult as the next one.

A penalty was called on Boca Raton in the box, giving Oviedo a penalty kick, which Sarah Preston placed just inside the right goal post, just off the hands of a diving Nordhagen.

“That was a little rough to have that call,” Grimes said. “It took away a lot of our momentum.”

Boca Raton got on the board when Kendra Cashion powered through the defense, fired a shot that bounced off Oviedo goalkeeper Brianna Waggoner, and Dayana Martin was right there to put it in and cut the deficit to 2-1. It was the fourth shot on goal for Martin and the first goal Oviedo had surrendered in the playoffs.

Less than two minutes later, the Lions answered when Haylie Beavers knocked one in with 8:19 remaining to seal the victory.

“The last 20 minutes were back-and-forth and pretty exciting,” Grimes said. “We were just playing a great team.”

The defeat left the Bobcats in tears, but the future is bright for Boca Raton.

“We started this season not really knowing what we had, then we rattled off 25 straight wins,” Grimes said. “We only had two senior starters, so we should be returning most of our starting lineup next year.”

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