Island soccer standouts on Manatee Her-icanes
|Amber Wright, Gracie Sawyer, Wetherly Wigelsworth and Tierney Greene are four Island girls who are playing soccer for the Manatee Her-icanes.
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Four Island girls have made either the varsity or junior varsity girl's soccer team at Manatee High School this season. Sophomore defender Gracie Sawyer is in her second season as a member of the JV squad, which is coached by Island resident Jeff Nelson. Freshmen Tierney Green and Amber Wright are also members of the junior varsity team. Green is starting at forward and currently leads her team in scoring with three goals, while the speedy Wright is firmly entrenched as the starter at right defender.
Junior midfielder/defender Wetherly Wigelsworth, who recently moved here from Indiana, is in her first season with the varsity Her-icanes.
The junior varsity and varsity teams made their first road trip of the season a memorable one, traveling all the way to "Gator country" Friday, Nov. 19, for a pair of games played Saturday at Gainesville Eastside High.
After settling into their Gainesville hotel and eating dinner, the girls attended the Southeastern Conference Volleyball tournament played at the University of Florida's O'Connell Center and got to watch the Lady Gators defeat the University of South Carolina in three straight games. After a stop for ice cream, the girls went back to their hotel for a good night's sleep. (That's what they were supposed to do!)
Saturday morning came too quickly for those players who stayed up too late, but they had a game to play.
Unfortunately, the junior varsity squad fell victim to a slow start and lost 2-1 to Eastside's JV team despite keeping the ball in Eastside's end of the field for the better part of the game. They surrendered a goal in the first two minutes of the game before rallying to tie the game in the 20th minute on a nice goal from Megan Fournier.
Late in the second half, Eastside scored on a breakaway to take a 2-1 lead that the Her-icanes were unable to overcome.
The varsity team came away with a 4-3 victory despite surrendering two penalty kicks to the varsity Rams. The Her-icanes dominated the game, outshooting Eastside 26-5 as they improved to 5-0-1 on the season.
Eastside jumped on top 1-0 in the eighth minute when freshman forward Liz Harlan outran two Her-icane defenders on a breakaway chance before finishing near post.
The Her-icanes came right back a few minutes later to tie the score. Angela Sheehan beat her mark down the left side and passed the ball inside. Eastside failed to clear the ball out of danger, which allowed junior forward Kyleigh O'Leary to poke it into the far corner. Two minutes later, Lexi Braxton got loose down the left side and crossed inside to Lindsey Weaver, who headed it past the keeper for a 2-1 lead, which they held until halftime.
Braxton extended the Her-icane lead to two goals early in the second half when she cut inside her defender to receive a pass from Weaver before finishing with a nice right-footed shot that beat the keeper near post.
Less than five minutes later, Manatee surrendered the first of two penalty kicks on the day. Eastside forward Liz Theurer easily converted her shot to pull to within a goal of Manatee.
Manatee again extended its lead when Hannah Brickse dropped the ball back to Sheehan, who curled her shot just inside the right post to give the Her-icanes a 4-2 lead with 20 minutes remaining.
Eastside's Theurer got loose on a breakaway chance with less than 10 minutes to play, but freshman defender Alisha Keene hustled back to make a great defensive play. Unfortunately, the referee rewarded her for her hustle by awarding a penalty kick to Theurer who finished to pull to within a goal.
Manatee tightened up and closed the game out for its fifth win on the season without a loss. Both teams were back in action Nov. 22 against a very strong Sarasota Riverview team.