Mariner boys soccer team advances to fourth straight regional final
Tritons erase Lakewood, 6-0
The Mariner boys soccer team had no issues with Lakewood (St. Pete) Saturday night and the Tritons punched their ticket to their fourth consecutive regional final with a 6-0 victory.
Triton seniors Santiago Guerrero and Sean Paul Negron each had a pair of goals in a 4A Region 2 semifinal match that saw Mariner control the majority of play.
After a 1-0 score at the half, the Tritons (19-5-2) exploded for five second half goals as the attack was clicking and the defense squashing any opportunity of a comeback.
“The boys are playing well right now,” said Mariner head coach Martin Cardenas. “They’re moving quick, sharing the ball, and creating chances.”
The Tritons would connect on their lone first half goal just 10 minutes into the game as a great run from Nicco Gerke ended with a cross pass to Guerrero who made no mistake.
The Trojans (17-4) did have some close calls, as two shots slammed off the crossbar and stayed out of the goal.
Five minutes into the second half Negron netted his first goal to extend the lead and seven minutes later, Guerrero added another.
In minute 58, Negron beat the keeper with a shot upstairs to make it 4-0.
“Our fitness again came into play today,” Cardenas said of the Tritons steady pace as the game progressed. “The second half was much more effective when it comes to creating chances and putting them away. I wish we could have been more effective earlier on, but we pulled it out.”
Marcello Alfonso scored in minute 67 while Samuel Bedoya notched the sixth Triton goal in minute 71.
Gerke, Negron, Guerrero and fellow senior Ignacio Velardez kept the pressure on Lakewood all night. Cardenas said his group of attacking upperclassman are all hungry to succeed.
“They all want to be the man,” he said. “Right now, I think it’s better we don’t rely on just one guy. They’re working together and setting each other up to finish.”
He also praised his defensive pairing of seniors Owen Osgood and Marcos Grimado.
“Both of them have decided to play together well and they’re doing a great job,” Cardenas said. “Marcos is starting to see the fruits of his labor when it comes to his conditioning work and is playing awesome and Owen is our security blanket and has done a good job so far.”
Last year, the Tritons made it all the way to the state championship match where they dropped a heartbreaker, and hope to return to that stage once more.
Cardenas said the key to a repeat appearance is to be more effective with their creativity and finishing prowess.
“Our ideas are good — it’s just he execution of the ideas,” he said. “If we’re going to make a deep run, we’re going to need to be effective with our opportunities, because it’s going to become tougher to create (as many) scoring chances as we continue.”
Mariner will host Weeki Wachee (17-3) this Tuesday at home at 7 p.m. for a chance at the 4A Final Four.
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