Out-of-Door Academy’s Filip Svoboda felt it was another tough match against Bradenton Christian, but there were times when the sophomore made it look effortlessly on Tuesday at the Moore Athletic Complex at Turner Fields on the campus of Saint Stephen’s.
Led by Svoboda’s hat trick, the second-seeded Thunder moved into the championship match of the Class 1A-District 7 boys soccer tournament with a 3-1 victory over the third-seeded Panthers.
With the three goals, Svoboda raised his goal total for the season to 35.
“I’m just a man who ends up with the ball up top,” Svoboda said. “It takes from the goalie all the way to get it up there. That’s what it is all about and that’s why it can look easy.”
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Svoboda opened up the scoring in the 14th minute by depositing teammate Trevor Gorji’s shot, which deflected off the goalpost, past Bradenton Christian keeper Nathan Cunneen.
A little more than 10 minutes later, Svoboda rocketed his own deflected shot into the net.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Thunder head coach George Leicht, whose team was 1-0-1 in the regular season against the Panthers. “I wish I had 22 just like (Svoboda). He’s a real pleasure, who loves the game and has a total passion for it. His mindset is the game and it shows on the field. It really is unbelievable to be able to coach someone like him.”
Less than 10 minutes into the second half, Carter Reemelin pulled Bradenton Christian (8-5-2) with a goal at 2-1 as he shot past Thunder goalkeeper Matteo Romano into the left side of the net.
Playing with more intensity than they displayed in the first half, the Panthers were still in the match until Svoboda scored his final goal in the 61st minute.
Out-of-Door Academy (10-6-2) will play host to top seed Saint Stephen’s at 7 p.m. on Friday for the district championship.
St. Stephen’s wins 8-0
Not to be outdone by Svoboda, the St. Stephen’s Falcons’ Jonathan Boyd scored five goals in an 8-0 win over Sarasota Christian in Tuesday’s second semifinal.
Saint Stephen’s (16-1-1) got two goals from Nico Colacci and another from Alex Virgilio. The Falcons did not yield a shot in the match, which was halted by the mercy rule in the 57th minute.
Out-of-Door Academy and Saint Stephen’s will play in the Class 1A-Region 2 quarterfinals on Feb. 1 no matter the outcome on Friday, with the district champion getting a home match and the district runner-up hitting the road.
“This is our second year going to the (district) championship game,” Leicht said. “It’s just outstanding, especially this season after losing six or seven seniors from last year. We’ve got a young squad of boys. We have six seniors on this team, but we have six or seven freshman as well. Those young guys are very talented as well and they feed off Filip, which really drives this team.”