OHS girls soccer team wins rematch at Inlet Grove

OKEECHOBEE — Headed into their rematch against the Inlet Grove Hurricanes on Dec. 1 the Okeechobee Lady Brahmans were going to be without their leading scorer for the season, junior Ashton English.

OHS coach Eric Swant was looking for his team to pick up the slack in English’s absence, and that’s exactly what they did. Okeechobee dominated the game 5-1.

OHS sophomore Janel Aponte had one goal, sophomore Callista Martinez had one goal, and junior Alani Garcia had three goals.

“I knew the game was going to be different without Ashton there,” Swant explained.

“However, I knew our girls would step up. Janel Aponte had her usual solid game and Alani Garcia stepped up and scored three goals in the second half. She was phenomenal.”

Senior goalie Brooke O’Hagan also had seven saves in the game.

The win put the Lady Brahmans at 3-4 heading into their home game against district powerhouse Martin County on Dec. 4.

The Martin County Lady Tigers are coming off an appearance in the regional semi-final in the 2016 season, and have had a history of running over Okeechobee in the regular season. The Lady Tigers have beaten the Lady Brahmans by eight points in every game they’ve played since 2013.

And with English still not at 100 percent after her illness, Okeechobee’s chances at victory were looking bleak.

Still, the Lady Brahmans came out fighting against Martin County. Okeechobee showed great control of the ball, and constantly disrupted Martin County’s attacks.

One series early in the first half saw English just miss the Martin County goal after a great pass from teammate Aponte.

Okeechobee’s defense was able to hold the Lady Tigers scoreless until late in the first half when Martin County squeezed past the Lady Brahmans defense and placed a shot into the left corner of the Okeechobee goal.

The first half ended with Martin County up 1-0, and with Okeechobee looking like they were matching up well against the impressive Lady Tigers.

During the second half the Lady Tigers returned to their playoff form, scoring a goal in the early minutes and another midway through the half.

Okeechobee didn’t make it easy, with goalie O’Hagan making 18 saves in the game.

Late in the second half some questionable off-sides calls stopped the Lady Brahmans as they made a break for the Martin County goal. Martin County avoided the ref’s whistle, however, and were able to score two more goals before the game ended with a Lady Tiger’s victory at 4-0.

Even with the loss, the Lady Brahmans should be proud of their performance against the powerful district foe.

“The first two years I was here,” Swant said, “Martin County scored eight points on us before the first half. So, we’re getting better. Tonight we just couldn’t get our offense on track.”

Now the Lady Brahmans prepare to go on a four-game road trip, which will see them play at Jensen Beach on Dec. 7, at Avon Park Dec. 11, at Ridge Community on Dec. 15, and at Palm Beach Lakes on Dec. 21. Okeechobee’s next home game will take place in 2018 on Jan. 9 against Dwyer.

Okeechobee High School sophomore Janel Aponte sprints past Martin County defenders during their game on Dec. 4. Aponte, along with junior Alani Garcia were crucial in stepping up after junior Ashton English had to miss the Inlet Grove game. Photo by Rich Marion.

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