Out-of-Door Academy swarmed Madysin Opstal near midfield as the final goal of Out-of-Door’s 7-1 rout sat in the back of Naples First Baptist Academy’s net and the referee’s final whistle blew.
Relief had steadily washed over the Thunder throughout its blowout win against First Baptist Academy, and when the clock reached zero immediately after Opstal put in a long free kick, the inevitable became the actual. For only the second time in program history, ODA will play in a region semifinal.
“This is our third time here, and we wanted to make sure that as a program we want to progressively get better and better,” head coach Bill Unzicker said. “Today we definitely showed that we have progressively gotten better.”
With Unzicker at the helm — he took over as head coach before the start of the 2014-15 season — Out-of-Door (18-0) has reached the Class 1A-Region 2 quarterfinals in three straight seasons. After early exits in the first two trips, the Thunder erupted for five goals in the first half and buried First Baptist (19-4) with two late goals.
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Out-of-Door will travel to Fort Myers on Tuesday and face Evangelical Christian, which beat Saint Stephen’s Thursday, in a Class 1A-Region 2 semifinal.
6Players who scored at least one goal for Out-of-Door Academy in the Class 1A-Region 2 quarterfinals.
Out-of-Door’s only trip to the region semis came in 2009, when the Thunder met the rival Falcons and failed to score. ODA has the offense this year to prevent another shutout on the biggest stage.
Out-of-Door needed five minutes to break through for its first goal at Out-of-Door Academy. A bouncing ball along the Lions’ back line squirted behind FBA’s last defender, and forward Katherine Pacitti rushed in to beat First Baptist’s goalkeeper in a one-on-one opportunity.
“It was really important because we were pretty anxious,” Pacitti said. “This is our first time making it this far in our history and we’ve never played this team before, so we didn’t know what to expect. The fact that we got ahead early in the game was really uplifting.”
The junior was the Thunder’s only player to score twice. Attacking midfielder Natalie Gorji scored her 27th goal less than 10 minutes later, and goals by Pacitti, midfielder Chloe Flanders and utility player Abby Lagassee during the final 10 minutes of the opening half gave ODA its 5-0 lead. Attacking midfielder Mackenzie Dove and Opstal scored during the second half.
The seven-goal explosion marked the fifth time this season Out-of-Door hit that number and the 13th time the Thunder has won by at least four.
“We made a bunch of great plays and we were all working together,” Pacitti said. “All the passes were great and a lot of through balls were just making it happen. It was awesome.”