GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL SOCCER

Bobcats claw past Eagles, 2-0


Published: Saturday, January 3, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 3, 2004 at 12:07 a.m.
When the Buchholz and Oak Hall girls soccer teams met earlier this year, Buchholz earned an easy victory and helped the Eagles identify where they were lacking after losing eight seniors and a would-be starter.
When the two squads met again in the opening round of the 26th annual Lady Bobcat Invitational on Friday at the University of Florida soccer practice field, the result was a 2-0 Buchholz win, despite a solid defensive performance that kept the Eagles (6-5) in the game.
"We're not as strong as most of the teams out here, but we like to play tougher teams because we are going to see tough teams in the playoffs," Eagles coach Basil Benjamin said. "Last time, Buchholz beat us 9-2, so this was a big improvement. Our main focus right now is to get better and learn how to play better together."
The effort wasn't their strongest for the defending champion Bobcats (10-1-3), according to coach Ron Messick, but it was a momentum builder heading into the two-day round-robin format.
"The first game is the most important of the tournament," said Messick, who has a number of players who recently returnedjust got back and worn out from a tiring club soccer tournament. "(Oak Hall) hustled, and Basil does a great job getting them ready to play. We just weren't ready, but got away with the win. We need to regroup for the next game."
Lauren Dwyer scored early in the first half, but the typically potent offense was silent until Chelsea Chidgey connected midway through the second half.
Of the eight teams in the event (Buchholz, Oak Hall, Tallahassee Lincoln, Jacksonville Bishop Kenny, South Fork, Pensacola Washington, Keystone Heights and Tallahassee Chiles), six are ranked or have received votes in their respective classifications. The result is an ultra-competitive field, despite having four fewer teams than last year.
Round-robin/pool play will continue this morning, with the two division winners meeting at Percy Beard Stadium tonight at 5:30 p.m. to battle for the tournament title. The two division runners-up will meet today at 3:30 p.m. in the third-place match.
"Any team can win this, and that's what we wanted when we set up the tournament," Messick said. "We don't want to bring in teams that we know we can beat. We like to bring in teams we know will be a challenge, and as tough as the teams we will see toward the end of the season."
Matt Cannizzaro can be reached at (352) 374-5052 or sunpreps@hotmail.com.

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