High School Sports

Beach gives Falcons a boost

SARASOTA - Tom Beach still remembers when Marc Jones, now Saint Stephen's boys soccer coach, approached him at an after-school soccer camp.

Jones could see something special in Beach's 5-year-old daughter, Michelle.

Jones told Beach, "Don't ever let her quit playing soccer. She's gifted."

Dad did not. And now his daughter is not only gifted, she's a standout for the Falcons, who routed host Out-of-Door Academy 7-1 on Thursday.

To go with numerous touch passes, fakes that left defenders off balance and shots that seemed to have programmed coordinates, Beach scored two goals and had two assists.

Afterward, Beach did not remember the slight-of-foot moves.

"I don't really think about stuff," the sophomore said. "I just kind of go."

Saint Stephen's (10-3-1, 6-1-1 Class 2A-District 11) led the Thunder (1-11-1, 1-4-1) 6-0 at halftime.

That's when Out-of-Door Academy coach Rebecca Schopfer made a move. She brought David Hawkes, the Out-of-Door girls' coach last season who is now the boys' head coach, to the sideline.

From across the field, one could hear Hawkes' shrill commands, which were sometimes "attack" or "mark up" followed by a standard "good girl."

Out-of-Door Academy played the Falcons to a 1-1 tie in the second half.

"His voice is 10 times louder than mine," Schopfer said. "His help is good. Our girls recognized that familiar voice."

One minute in, the Thunder's starting goalkeeper, Martha Moreo, went down with a left knee injury. The extent of her injury was unknown.

After that, there was little Out-of-Door could do about Beach, a varsity starter since seventh grade.

She scored the final goal when she rolled the ball ahead to bait a defender, then flicked the ball to the left before placing a line-drive shot over the head of Out-of-Door keeper Holley Geddes.

"(Beach) is so creative with the ball and sometimes that's her downfall," Saint Stephen's coach Bill Unzicker said. "Sometimes there are simpler ways to get the same result. But I don't want to stifle that (creativity)."