- By Jodie Wagner Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
For the second consecutive year, Boca Raton hosted Vero Beach with a girls soccer state semifinals berth on the line.
And for the second straight year, the Indians headed home empty-handed.
Dayana Martin scored three goals, and Stephanie Dodson added one score to lead the Bobcats to a 4-0 victory Tuesday night in a Class 5A regional championship game.
Boca Raton (18-2-1) moves on to Friday’s state semifinals, where it will host Miami-Our Lady of Lourdes Academy for a berth in the state championship match.
The Indians finished their season 16-5-1.
“This feels great,” Bobcats coach Rachael Grimes said. “I’m really proud of the girls. We’ve had big expectations this year, but to come out and back it up and be regional champions again is a really great feeling.”
Boca Raton started quickly on offense, nearly scoring 1:16 into the game. Martin broke loose on the left side and crossed to a wide-open Kendra Cashion, but her shot was saved by Vero Beach goalie Mallory Padgett.
The Bobcats kept the pressure up, with Martin getting loose a handful of times in the Indians’ defensive end. But the speedy UCF-bound forward was unable to find the back of the net.
Boca Raton had several other good scoring opportunities in the first half, including one on a corner kick sequence with a little more than 14 minutes remaining.
That opportunity didn’t work out, but the next one did. Less than a minute later, Martin got loose on the right side, beat her defender, and scored on a hard shot into the corner to give the Bobcats a 1-0 lead.
Martin struck again just a few minutes later, collecting a loose ball and pushing it past Padgett for a 2-0 Boca Raton lead.
Martin had one more chance just before halftime to pick up the hat trick, but her shot flew wide.
“When we had that early opportunity, I thought it was a missed chance,” Grimes said. “But I thought we were still playing well. I just felt it would be a matter of time before we would get one. I’m glad the girls just stuck with it and finally found the back of the net.”
The second half opened with more offensive pressure from Boca Raton. Padgett made several stops in goal for the Indians, while several other Bobcats’ shots missed their mark.
Vero Beach finally got its offense going midway through the second half, and had a couple of breakaway opportunities.
But the Indians were unable to convert, and the Bobcats followed with Dodson’s goal to take a 3-0 lead with 20 minutes remaining.
Martin completed the hat trick with 9:31 left for the final score.
Oxbridge Academy 2, Miami-Gulliver Prep 1: Allison Breed scored the first goal on a penalty kick to force overtime, and Lizzy Spears scored the game-winning goal as the ThunderWolves edged the Raiders in a Class 2A regional final in West Palm Beach. Oxbridge will face Fort Myers-Bishop Verot in the state semifinals Friday in Fort Myers.