By REID TUCKER
Sparks flew when South Walton’s girls’ and boys’ soccer teams travelled north to face their county and district opponents at Walton High School.
Both Seahawks teams came out on top versus their Braves counterparts, but the girls’ match, which kicked the double-header on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 29, was where the meat of the action took place. Both sides were evenly matched through the first half, but the Lady Seahawks pulled away after the break to clinch the win. The story was much the same but to a greater extent favored the South Walton boys, who battled through the first half, trailing the Braves 1-0, but turned up the heat in the second half, scoring six unanswered goals.
Walton was hot out of the gate in the girls’ game, with Savana Bridier scoring in the seventh minute, though South Walton’s Alex Weiner scored six minutes later. The Lady Seahawks controlled the ball through most of the first half, meaning a lot of work for Walton keeper Briana Ellenberg, who had eight saves (including two back-to-back blocks in the 36th minute) the first 45 alone before adding another five after the intermission. South Walton tied the game in the 13th minute with a goal from Alex Weiner, and the score was knotted 2-all in the 31st minute after Maria de la Cruz put one in on a header in retaliation for Valerie Hernandez’s score, which she floated in four minutes earlier.
In the second half the Seahawks’ pressure was simply too much for the embattled Lady Braves, who felt the sting of two swift goals from Yomira Arrese within the first five minutes back from the break. Walton battled to a 4-3 deficit when Hernandez scored from close range in the 22nd minute after a behind-the-back pass from Jessica Haynie though South Walton’s reply came shortly afterward when Hannah Peterson put a shot between the posts five minutes later. The Lady Seahawks put the final nail in Walton coffin with 15 minutes to go, when Weiner hammered in a steeply angled shot from 20 yards out, giving South Walton the 6-3 victory.
Walton looked to have the advantage early in the boys’ match when Matt Majors scored 13 minutes into the contest, though South Walton had a greater volume of fire by far, putting seven shots on-goal to Walton’s three, counting the earlier score. Lupe Gordillo had three shots, one off the left post in the seventh minute and two off the top post in the 27th minute, and both Jose Acevedo and Brandon Batista had two shots that came up just short of finding the back of the net. Walton goalie Clay Permenter had five saves in the first half.
As good as Walton had it in the first half South Walton had it better in the second, as the Seahawks veritably poured on the goals after the intermission, starting with Gordillo, who earned a hat trick on the night by scoring his team’s first three goals of six. Christian Friis scored goal number four with help from Daniel Alonso, who picked up the assist. Carlos Rivas scored in the 18th minute and the Seahawks’ domination was complete with Gordillo adding another close-range goal to seal the deal just moments before the final whistle.
The wins propel South Walton’s girls to a 4-3 record and the boys to 4-4, while the Braves’ fall to 1-6 on the girls’ side and 0-6 for the guys.