Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014
Local Sports

Dragons sweeps 'Dogs


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LAKE PLACID - Soccer coaches call Class 2A-District 10 the black and blue division for a reason - it's loaded with physical teams.

But the Frostproof Bulldogs found out that if they push Lake Placid, the Green Dragons will push right back.

Both the Dragons boys and girls soccer teams won their matches against the Bulldogs Thursday night, completing the home-and-away sweep, with the girls winning 2-0 at Roger Scarborough Memorial Field while the boys edged the Bulldogs in Frostproof by a score of 1-0.

"It was a nice game," said Lake Placid girls coach John Merlo. "We really had a chance to show off our aggressiveness tonight, and I think we reacted really well to Frostproof's physical play."

The loss dropped the Bulldogs to 1-5-1, 0-3-1, while the win improved the Green Dragons to 6-2-2, 2-1-2.

Despite some roughhouse tactics from the Bulldogs, the Dragons maintained their composure, controlling the ball for much of the first half.

Their shots continued to sail just wide of the goal, though, until Mary Grace Bates booted in a goal for Lake Placid in the 15th minute.

After the first shot was blocked by Frostproof's goalkeeper, Bates alertly located the deflection and tapped the ball into the left side of the net for her fifth goal of the season.

"She's incredible," Merlo said. "She's played soccer her whole life - I've actually coached her on and off since she was little. I knew it would take a little bit of time after she came over from volleyball, but since the Mulberry game, she's just been spectacular."

Taking a 1-0 lead into the second half, Lake Placid goalie Tamija Douglas kept Frostproof at bay, swatting a handful of the Bulldogs' while the Dragons struggled to rekindle their offense.

And when the Dragons needed her most, Bates reemerged.

Taking control of the ball at midfield, she split two Frostproof defenders before displaying some fancy dribbling to draw the Bulldogs goalkeeper away from the net. Once Bates had her far enough from the goal, she faked inside and dribbled back out, softly tapping the ball into the net, leaving a handful of Bulldogs players in her dust.

Even with her advanced dribbling and scoring skills, Merlo praises Bates' attitude more than anything.

"You never know if she just got done scoring a goal or missing one," he said. "She just shrugs it off. She's a great athlete and we're really happy to have her."

Lake Placid's Rosa Ramirez also had a great game, but you wouldn't know if from looking at the stat sheet. Ramirez was a fail-safe for the Dragons, hustling back on a myriad of plays to single-handily break up Frostproof scoring opportunities.

"Every team that we play always comments on her," Merlo said. "She's been one of our most valuable players; she's a fireball."

Meanwhile, over in Polk County, the Dragon boys edged Frostproof thanks to a stellar scoring play from senior duo Jorge Godinez and Osvaldo Orduna. Facing a free kick from 45 yards out, Orduna blasted the ball at Frostproof's goalkeeper, who mishandled it. Godinez collected the rebound and booted it in to give the Dragons their lone goal of the game.

"It wasn't the prettiest victory," said Lake Placid boys coach James Ashley. "But it was well earned."

"I'm very proud of the effort our team continues to give. Frostproof is strong all over the field and we managed to withstand the heat."

Lake Placid goalie Alfredo Aguillon was vital in preserving the shutout. In the first half, Frostproof had multiple shots on goal, all of which were sent away thanks to a number of sensational diving efforts.

"Alfredo made several spectacular saves that buried any hope Frostproof had to score," Ashley said. "Our entire defensive back line was called upon several times in the second half as well, and time and again, each Bulldogs scoring-threat was extinguished."

The schedule doesn't get any easier for Lake Placid. Both the boys and girls teams will travel to McKeel Academy on Tuesday for a district match against the Wildcats. The girls play first at 6 p.m., followed by the boys at 8.

bhoward@highlandstoday.com

863-386-5841

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