Hawks shutout Harmony, advance to Class 6A, Region 3 final

George, Worley score in 2-0 victory


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Viera freshman Taylor George celebrates after scoring the game's first goal with 1:38 remaining in the first half of the Class 6A regional quarterfinal at Hawk Stadium. The Hawks won the game 2-0 to advance to the Region 3 final.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

Before his team took the field for Friday night’s Class 6A, Region 3 semifinal against visiting Harmony, Viera High girls soccer coach Cal Dixon stressed two things to his players:

* Getting off to a better start than they did in their quarterfinal game against Martin County.

* Keeping their emotions in check.

And that’s just what the Hawks did.

Freshman Taylor George scored just before halftime and junior Allie Worley added a goal in the second half as Viera defeated the Longhorns 2-0 in the regional semifinals.

The victory puts top-seeded Viera (18-1-2) into the regional final against No. 3 St. Cloud (15-6-3). That game is set for Tuesday at 7 p.m., once again at Hawk Stadium.

“I think we really picked it up from last game,” senior midfielder Madelyn Rosario said. “I was talking about how we really started off slow (against Martin County). This game, I feel like we really pulled through. It’s a great feeling.”

For the second game in a row, the Hawks came into the game knowing very little about their opponent. But after a little bit of back and forth in the early part of the first half, Viera began to take over.

“I think we were a little stressed out in the beginning because we had no idea how they played,” Worley said. “But toward the second quarter of the first half, we just started dominating. I’m proud of the whole entire team.”

Despite being in control, it looked like the Hawks might go into halftime in a scoreless tie with the Longhorns.

That is, until Rosario found George breaking toward the box and the freshman scored to put Viera up 1-0.

“I’m so proud of myself. I’m proud of my team,” George said. “I’m glad Maddie knows exactly what I do with the ball. She gave me a perfect one where I could use my best asset to my best ability.”

George, who went into the team’s tryouts wondering if she would even make the JV team, has had a huge impact on the Hawks since entering the starting lineup.

In 18 games, she now has 16 goals and nine assists.

“Her work ethic is incredible,” Rosario said. “I’ve never heard her complain. I’ve never seen her put her head down. She’s always going at it. I think her perseverance and her grit and her hard work shows on the field. I’m really happy for her.”

Added Worley: “I think everyone needs to be that. Honestly, it pays off. I’m proud of her. She’s awesome.”

Having a 1-0 lead, especially right before halftime, not only gave the Hawks a confidence boost, it allowed Viera players to really settle in. The Hawks were able to assert their dominance behind the play of Worley; George; Rosario; Taylor Collins; Savannah Oxley; Caroline Boston; Johanna Webb; Piper McHenry; Mai Jensen; Talorie Crafton; Serena Zarzana; Morgan Brubaker; Lauren Mieczkowski and goalkeepers Jordan Spira and Megan Cook.

Worley’s goal – her team-high 17th and 12th in her past five games – off an assist from Collins made it 2-0 Viera and set the stage for the last half of the game when things started to get a little … physical.

“They were getting really scrappy,” said George, who had to come off the field at one point after getting hurt.

“They were getting frustrated. A lot of them were coming for me and I started getting frustrated. But I really had to keep my mind focused on the game.”

That kind of attitude is exactly what Dixon was looking for.

“I thought we controlled the game really well. What I’m most proud of is what I told the girls at the end – we controlled our emotions all through the game. So, when things got scrappy and they started to kick us … they basically lost their heads at the end, and we didn’t.

“That’s a big factor in us doing what we did. We talked about it a lot before the game. We talked about it at halftime, and I thought my girls were really good with that. We played well, but the fact that we controlled emotions when they lost their heads is fantastic for me.”

Next up will be St. Cloud, which knocked off Melbourne 1-0 in Friday’s other Class 6A, Region 3 semifinal, with the winner getting a trip to the final four.

Needless to say, the Hawks will be looking for a performance just like the one they turned in Friday night.

“We started really well. We competed well,” Dixon said. “Honestly, I think it was a comfortable game. It was comfortable, but tight at the same time.

“I thought the girls did great in every aspect.”