By Matt Wiley

After a phenomenal season and a District championship title, the Wiregrass Ranch High (WRH) girls soccer season finally has come to an end, following a loss to the Lakeland George Jenkins Eagles in the Region 4A-3? Semifinals.

Coming off of an 18-2 season, including 5-0 in their 4A District-8 games, the Bulls girls went on to defeat the Sickles High Gryphons and the George M. Steinbrenner High Warriors (14-6), for the school’s second District Championship in seven years, a notable feat for first-season coach Eddy Costa.

The regional semifinal match against Lakeland George Jenkins was hard fought, but the Bulls ultimately came up short at home against the high-flying Eagles 4-1, ending their State title hopes with a final season record of 20-3.

“The game wasn’t beyond our reach,” Costa says. “We just played our game during the first half,” when the Bulls walked away up 1-0, on a goal from freshman Chloe Lipovetsky. However, the Eagles were not going down without a fight.

“Unfortunately, we made some mistakes that (George Jenkins) capitalized on,” Costa explains. “They were able to get up 2-1 pretty early in the second half.”

Costa says that, he pulled his midfielders to give his team a stronger offense with about 16 minutes left, but it was the Bulls who were unable to stop the Eagles from sneaking in two more goals by the time the final whistle was blown.

“As the girls’ head coach for my first season, (winning a District title) is a great feeling,” Costa says. “Obviously, the girls and I would have liked to have played (for the State title), but I’m really happy with this season.”


District Champs!

The Bulls had a lot to prove when they made the short drive to Steinbrenner on January 18 for the District 4A-8 championship.

Although they fell behind 1-0 before the end of the first half, WRH senior Berlin Waters got the comeback started early with a Bulls goal just minutes into the second half, followed shortly by another goal from fellow senior A.J. Blount.

“We took away their midfield,” says Costa. “A team like Steinbrenner is going to score on you. We just had to make sure we kept their scoring low. Steinbrenner was a challenge. The girls trained hard for them.”

In addition to winning the District title, the Bulls also broke an 11-game winning streak for Steinbrenner, which went on to lose in the Regional Quarterfinal to the same George Jenkins squad that ended WRH’s season a game later.

Although Costa is losing several standout players after this season, including Waters, who is committed to nearby St. Leo University; Blount, who is committed to USF; and goalkeeper Dayton Wetherby, who is committed to attend the U.S. Naval Academy, he says he still has high hopes for next season.

“We had freshmen starting games throughout the season,” he explains. “They all shone. We might be losing six seniors, but we still have a whole other half of a team. I’m excited for next year. This whole season, our slogan has been ‘believe to achieve.’ We’re just going to keep on believing.”

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