- By Jodie Wagner Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Oxbridge Academy scaled a big hurdle Friday night in its bid to win a second consecutive girls soccer state championship.
Allison Breed scored three goals, and added the game-winner on penalty kicks to lead the ThunderWolves to a 4-3 victory over Benjamin in the District 13-2A championship game at Oxbridge.
The win was the second of the season for the ThunderWolves over the Bucs, following a 4-2 decision Dec. 12.
Both teams advance to the regional quarterfinals, which will be played Feb. 6. Oxbridge (8-1-4) will host its game, while Benjamin 11-5 will travel to its opponent.
The game was tied at 3 after the end of regulation and through two 10-minute overtime periods.
“When it gets down to (penalty kicks) and the teams are so evenly matched, it just comes down to a connected pass here, or a missed goal there,” Oxbridge coach Steve Obringer said. “While I’m not a huge fan of PKs, it’s always good to come out on top.”
Benjamin had the edge in possession to open the contest, but Oxbridge had the first good scoring chance.
Carly Sanders took the ball down the right side and launched a cross into the middle, but nobody was there to punch it in.
Six minutes later, the Bucs broke the scoreless tie with a goal from Nicole Vernis off a free kick.
The ThunderWolves had their own free kick opportunity just before the midpoint of the first half, but Breed’s shot sailed over the net. Two minutes later, Vernis’ did too.
The 1-0 score held until eight minutes remained in the first half. A handball gave Oxbridge a penalty kick opportunity, and Breed converted.
Just before halftime, the Bucs retook the lead on a long goal by Carolyn Rose.
ThunderWolves goalie Merissa Chu came up with a big save early in the second half, thwarting a Benjamin scoring opportunity. That opportunity came off another Vernis free kick.
Breed equalized for Oxbridge in the 54th minute, getting loose on the left side and launching a shot past the diving Bucs goalie.
The ThunderWolves started pushing forward after that, but couldn’t net the game-winner.
Vernis nearly did with 13 minutes remaining, sailing a shot just over the crossbar.
She didn’t miss the next time, scoring on a corner kick that deflected off the goalie with 6:14 remaining.
Breed wasn’t done yet, though. She picked up the hat trick with 3:13 left, tying the game at 3.
The contest remained tied through two overtime periods, and ended on Breed’s penalty kick. All five ThunderWolves’ shooters converted their penalty kick shots, giving Oxbridge a 5-4 edge.