The Saint Stephen’s Falcons (18-1-1) shut out the Fort Myers Canterbury (13-5) boys soccer team 3-0 at the Moore Athletic Complex at Turner Fields on Wednesday night.
The Class 1A-Region 2 quarterfinals victory featured a pair of goals in the first 20 minutes and stout defense in the second half to send the Falcons on to a regional semifinal showdown against Community School of Naples on Saturday.
“I was really happy with the first half performance,” Saint Stephen’s head coach Marc Jones said. “We created a lot, and we managed to tuck two away.”
The Falcons used an advantage in speed to stretch the Canterbury defense and draw goalkeeper Max Waldau off his line throughout the first half. In the 15th minute of the match, Alex Virgilio caught Waldau well off the line, settled a tough ricochet off one of the Cougars and touched it past the charging keeper for the goal.
Buoyed by the early tally, the Falcons doubled their lead less than two minutes later. With possession contested just beyond the box, Waldau began to creep beyond the six-yard marking. Nico Colacci rifled an elevated shot over the keeper and into the upper quadrant of the net for a 2-0 Falcons’ advantage.
Virgilio continued to pester Canterbury in the waning minutes of the first half, including a well-struck shot off the bottom of the crossbar.
The Cougars attacked throughout the second half. The Falcons’ back line and goalkeeper Trevor Mulqueen turned away a bevy of set play opportunities from the visitors.
“We do work hard on set plays defensively to be in good defensive positions to clear the ball,” Jones said. “They’ve got some good, strong, physical players in the air and I thought our guys stuck with them very well.”
Saint Stephen’s established the margin of victory in the 71st minute. The Falcons charged ahead with numbers on the counterattack and created a four-on-two around the box. Waldau saved Jonathan Boyd’s initial shot, but Alex Rodriguez secured the rebound and scored.
Community School of Naples eliminated the Falcons in the regional semifinals in 2016.
“We know it’s going to be a battle, but they (Community School) know they’re in for a battle as well,” Jones said.