Hawks advance to regional semis after 4-0 win over Martin County
Viera High center back Lauren Mieczkowski gets to the ball just ahead of Martin County forward Emma Johnson during Tuesday night's Class 6A regional quarterfinal. Viera won the game 4-0 to advance to Friday's semifinal where it will host Harmony.
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
For the second time in less than a week, the Viera High girls soccer team had to take on the Martin County Tigers in a playoff game at Hawk Stadium.
Allie Worley scored twice and the Hawks also got goals from Piper McHenry and Mai Jensen as Viera defeated Martin County 4-0 in the Class 6A regional quarterfinals.
The victory puts top-seeded Viera (17-1-2) into Friday night’s regional semifinals against visiting Harmony (14-6-1) in a game that is scheduled to start at 7. Harmony, the No. 5 seed, upset No. 4 George Jenkins 6-2 in its regional quarterfinal Tuesday night.
Although Viera and Harmony both play in District 12, the two teams did not face each other in the regular season or in the district tournament where Harmony was actually the top seed and the Hawks were No. 3.
Viera played Martin County in the district quarterfinals last Wednesday and jumped out to a 4-0 lead before the Hawks took their foot off the gas and gave up two late goals.
That outcome presented an interesting challenge for the Hawks coming into Tuesday night’s game.
How do you go into this one without feeling overconfident?
“It is kind of hard,” Worley said. “You don’t want to come out too come out too confident and be like, ‘Oh, we’re going to beat this team,’ and they come out even harder because they want it more than we do.”
Any concerns the Hawks might have had were alleviated six minutes in when McHenry scored to put Viera up 1-0. Worley would net he first goal of the game 15 minutes later.
“I think we started off kind of slow, so when we got the first goal, it kind of helped us calm down and got us going,” senior co-captain Madelyn Rosario said.
If there was one drawback for the Hawks on Tuesday night, it was that the team uncharacteristically received three yellow cards in the tightly-called contest. Had any of the three players received another yellow card, not only would Viera have found itself shorthanded for the rest of the Martin County game, but the player would have not been able to play in the regional semifinal.
In order to play it safe, the Hawks went to their bench and got some strong play from junior Megan Cook and sophomores Lauren Mieczkowski and Victoria Wehner, along with a number of other substitutes who saw playing time.
“We had a couple of dangerous situations,” Rosario said. “But I think the other players picked up for us.”
As happy as he was to get the win, Viera coach Cal Dixon made it clear to his team there are a few areas that need to be cleaned up in order for the Hawks to advance to the regional final and beyond.
“I actually don’t think we played as well as the last time we played against them, but we did what we had to do to win the game,” Dixon said. “We had some great goals again, but there are some things that we spoke about at the end that we need to do better.
“If we play against a top-level team that brings an A-game against us, we might lose, or we might have a harder time. We’ve got to learn from that.
“But obviously, it was a great result. And for the most part, I thought we played very well.”
Senior Taylor Collins, junior Savannah Oxley and freshman Taylor George all had assists for the Hawks.
Viera also got strong play from Caroline Boston; Jordan Spira; Johanna Webb; Morgan Brubaker; Talorie Crafton; Reese Pulliam; Alexandra Rowe; Kaley Vitaliano; Ariana Valentin and Amanda Vitaliano.
Serena Zarzano also had a big game, starting at center back and then moving to defensive midfield when Mieczkowski returned to the field after missing several games.
“That’s a real positive for tonight,” Dixon said. “I talked about it early in the season and I still talk about it – the depth and strength that we have.
“We literally emptied our entire bench tonight. A couple of girls only got 10 minutes at the end, but it just shows they can play in a game like this. It’s experience for them.
“We got a lot of girls a lot of minutes and we won the game 4-0.”
While the two-time state champion Hawks may still have another level or two to climb to get to where they really want to go, they seem to be focused on taking each step as it comes and not getting ahead of themselves.
Rosario said Dixon is making sure of that.
“At our last practice, he said, ‘Any questions you have about other teams, ask them now. After this, I don’t want to hear about any other team. We’re only talking about the team we’re playing next.’
“That’s all we should be thinking about … what do we have to do to win this next game.”