Keystone Heights wins district

Published: Saturday, January 31, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 31, 2004 at 12:34 a.m.
KEYSTONE HEIGHTS - Sarah Poncher scored three times as Keystone Heights edged Santa Fe 3-2 Friday night to win the District 4-3A soccer title.
However, at the end of the contest it was hard to tell by the reactions of both teams who the winner actually was. Every member of each club acted in a celebratory fashion and each coach received some type of water cooler shower.
It was easy for the Indians (13-7-2) to be excited about their first district crown since 2001 and about making their third trip to the regional tournament in four seasons. But for the Raiders (9-8-2), despite the loss, it was still special. Santa Fe played in its first-ever district championship match and will be making its inaugural appearance in a regional quarterfinal on Thursday.
"We came up a little bit short, but I am real proud of them, they have worked real hard," said first-year Santa Fe coach Angela Giddens. "I am just ecstatic. My girls have worked really hard and they have put in lots of hours of practice and every week they have gotten a little bit better. I am so proud of them for how far they have come this year, because I know they didn't do real well last year."
In the previous two seasons, the Raiders won a total of five games, so a district runners-up trophy was not such a bad prize.
After Poncher, a junior, scored on a breakaway and then headed in another goal, it appeared that the Indians' 2-0 halftime lead was safe. But the Raiders responded as Kiki Moy made it a one-goal game 12 minutes into the second half.
Seven minutes later Poncher completed the hat-trick on a penalty kick for the 3-1 advantage. Santa Fe's Lindsay Davis also found the back of the net on a penalty kick with 18:47 to go, which provided the final margin.
"They have worked really hard this year, they put in a lot of effort this year," Keystone Heights coach Scott Conkling said of his team, which was 2-0-1 in three meetings versus Santa Fe this season. "This (winning the district title) was our number one goal this year.
"They (Santa Fe) were cheering even though they came in second and that was really great. I was nervous, but this is what a championship game should be. It was awesome."
Keystone Heights will host Jacksonville Bolles Thursday's regional quarterfinal, while Santa Fe will be on the road at Jacksonville Episcopal.

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