Big second half lifts Melbourne over Viera in boys soccer district semis


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The Viera Hawks took a 1-0 lead against Melbourne in the Class 4A, District 6 semifinal, but the Bulldogs rallied for a 3-1 victory.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

For one half of soccer, the Viera High boys worked their game plan to perfection.

But the Hawks couldn’t hold off a strong Melbourne team in the second half, and it was the Bulldogs who emerged from Wednesday night’s Class 4A, District 6 semifinal with a 3-1 victory and a spot in the championship game.

Tommy Lanford’s goal in the 27th minute gave Viera a 1-0 lead it would take into the half. However, the Bulldogs would break through for three unanswered goals in the second half.

“We couldn’t have prepared any better for the game and the first 40 minutes – the first half – we couldn’t have asked for anything more from the boys,” Hawks coach Cory Collins said. “A couple of mistakes in the second half, a couple of calls that don’t go your way and the game turns.”

The Bulldogs (17-2-2), winners of four state championships (three since 2009), certainly have the look of a team capable of making another title run.

That’s why the Hawks can take pride in knowing they gave the Bulldogs everything they had Wednesday night.

Melbourne possessed the ball for much of the game, but in the first half, the Hawks (11-5-2) were able to blunt the Bulldogs’ attack with the help of some strong play in goal by Max Pacheaco (10 saves) and some help from senior Sean Pattan.

“We knew they were going to possess the ball and have more possessions than we did,” Collins said. “The game plan was to sit in and make it tough for them. They didn’t have a whole lot of ideas when we did that. They started forcing it and the game started to open up. We started to have a couple of opportunities here and there.”

That began to change six minutes into the second half when Melbourne’s Dylan Moreira got free and tied the game. Two more goals would follow and the Bulldogs were on their way to the title game where they will face Sebastian River.

The Hawks, meanwhile, are looking at a bright future after a successful season under Collins and new assistant coach, Nick Robinson.

While it was the final game for seniors Lanford, Pattan, Liam Stinson, Valek Martinez and Chandler Hetrick, the rest of Viera’s roster is littered with underclassmen.

“It’s the first time since I’ve been here that we have the number of returning players that we have at a young age,” Collins said. “We’ve got 10 or 12 sophomores on the team. A lot of young guys. A lot of potential moving forward. It’s an exciting future.

“We always knew it was going to be a little bit of a struggle this year after losing 16 seniors last year. It was a little bit of a rebuilding year, but what they accomplished this year and how they played in this last game, you couldn’t ask for anything more.”