High School Sports

Boys soccer | Saint Stephen's soars past Sarasota Christian for fifth straight district title

SARASOTA -- After struggling in the first half, the Saint Stephen's boys soccer team looked for a spark to ignite its offense.

It came in the 17th minute of the second half when Antony Colacci was awarded a penalty kick. He knocked it in to break a 1-1 deadlock, and the floodgates opened for the Falcons.

Saint Stephen's scored three more unanswered goals to earn a 5-2 victory over host Sarasota Christian to win the Class 1A-District 7 championship Friday night. It was the fifth straight district title and 16th overall for the program.

"We weren't really capitalizing on our chances, and Sarasota was hanging in tough, and at halftime we said we just got to keep doing what we are doing and moving the ball quickly," Saint Stephen's head coach Marc Jones said.

Kevin Zandomenego followed Colacci's goal, and the Falcons got the other two from Ben Whorf and Henry Howell to open a 5-1 lead with 22 minutes left in the match.

"What spurred it on (for Saint Stephen's) was the PK," Sarasota Christian head coach Curtis Lynch said. "To me, it looked like an even challenge, but I am bias. You give it up, and then we make a substitute and our substitute is marking on the corner kick and that's what happens. The floodgates opened."

The Falcons had 19 shots on goal, and keeper Garret Barnes was credited with eight saves. During the regular season, Saint Stephen's defeated Sarasota Christian 3-1 and they played to a 1-1 tie.

Saint Stephen's (12-1-5) dominated the game in the early going, but couldn't capitalize until Jon Boyd scored the first goal of the match. Sarasota Christian (10-3-5) answered and the match was tied 1-1 at halftime.

"We did a great job in the second half. I was very proud of the guys," Jones said. "They are a tough, physical team, and this is not an easy place to come and win. We had a lot of guys score, and that's the way we play soccer. We keep the ball on the ground and pass and move. The guys implemented the game plan very well."

The Falcons will be home Jan. 29 as they begin their quest for a second straight region title against Fort Myers Evangelical Christian. This squad might not have the firepower of previous teams under Jones, but he likes their chances.

"This maybe is not our most talented team from one to 11, but it's a team that works for each other," Jones said. "We have some quality players, but everybody plays not as individuals but as a team. and that's the reason for our success. I am proud of the starting 11 and the guys coming off the bench as well."

Saint Stephen's is giving up an average of 1.31 goals per match this season and scoring at a 5.5-goals-per-game clip. The Falcons came into the game ranked 12th in Class 1A.