Bryant scores 4 goals, Hawks blank Heritage to move into district finals
Viera High's JJ Bryant works against a Heritage defender during Wednesday night's district semifinal at Melbourne High. Bryant scored four goals for the Hawks, who won the game 6-0 to advance to the finals.
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
Sure, they had a regular season to get through.
But for the Viera High girls soccer team, the playoffs are when the fun really begins.
“This is the fun time,” senior Jordan Walsh said. “This is do-or-die. Let’s go. It’s really competitive and you’re finally playing for something. That’s what makes it fun.”
The top-seeded Hawks certainly enjoyed their Class 4A, District 6 semifinal Wednesday night at Melbourne High. Sophomore JJ Bryant scored four goals and Walsh and Hollyn Knight also scored as the Hawks rolled to a 6-0 victory over Heritage.
Viera (16-1-1) will face Melbourne in the district championship game Friday night at 7.
The Hawks, who used last year’s district title win over Melbourne to propel themselves all the way to the Class 4A state championship, certainly looked Wednesday night like a team ready to defend its title. Viera was on fire from the start.
In fact, the game wasn’t even six minutes old, and Bryant already had a hat trick, and Viera had a 4-0 lead against Heritage.
“I think we just started off wanting to make a statement, showing we’re here to play and we’re ready to go,” Walsh said.
That was certainly the case for Bryant, who broke free and scored the game’s first goal less than two minutes in, then added another goal on a penalty kick just over a minute later. Her third goal came on an assist from Walsh.
“Our main thing is we knew what we had to get done in this game, and nobody played as individuals,” Bryant said. “The result of this game, how we started off with that fire, wouldn’t have happened with a one-man individual (attitude).
“We worked as a team, and we played as more than that. We played as a family. That’s one thing we all like to stress to each other, and our coaches like to stress, is that we’re one big family. That’s how we have to play on and off the field.”
Viera’s performance was certainly enough to please coach Courtney Lundy.
“I think we came out really strong and then we kind of slowed down a little bit,” Lundy said. “We had a little talk about that at halftime and then they seemed to pick it up in the second half. I thought they played well for the most part.”
In that second half, Bryant scored her fourth goal on an assist from Knight, who would later close out the scoring with a goal of her own.
Like her players, Lundy agreed that this is her favorite time of the season.
“That’s what I told the girls,” Lundy said. “This is the best part of the year for me as far as coaching goes. It’s exciting. It’s a fun ride. And the girls love it, too. You can see when they get to this time, the intensity at practice gets a lot higher.”
No player seemed to be having more fun Wednesday night than Bryant.
Although she wasn’t on the Hawks championship team last season – she was playing for her club team – Bryant was, as Lundy put it, “our biggest fan.”
Now, she is playing a big role on a Viera team ranked fourth in the state – in all classes – by Top Drawer Soccer.com.
“Even though I wasn’t on the team last year, when I could watch them play, it was awesome,” Bryant said. “Just being in the stands, watching the way they played the ball, moved it around and hearing the fans go crazy over our girls, it was amazing.
“Now that I can be part of the actual team and play on the field with these players is just awesome. It’s an amazing opportunity.”
One she sure seems to be taking advantage of.