OHS soccer team falls in district championship

Lake Okeechobee News/Richard Marion
The Okeechobee Lady Brahmans pose after defeating Port St. Lucie in the district semifinal on Jan. 30.

OKEECHOBEE–The Okeechobee High School Lady Brahmans varsity soccer team fell to Suncoast 8-0 in the district championship on Jan. 31 in Okeechobee.

The Lady Brahmans were able to fight their way into the district championship after a 10-6-1 regular season that earned them a bye in the first round of the playoffs. Following that bye, Okeechobee played host to the Port St. Lucie Lady Jaguars in the district semifinal.

The district semifinal between the Lady Brahmans and Lady Jaguars first started on Jan. 29, but had to be called off halfway through the game due to inclement weather. Before the game was called, each team had scored one goal, and the two teams looked to be evenly matched.

But, when the two teams took the field a day later on Jan. 30 at 4 p.m., Okeechobee was able to run circles around Port St. Lucie. Previously, the Lady Jaguars were doing a good job at controlling the middle of the field. However, the Lady Brahmans’ offense was able to completely take over the game in the first few minutes of the second half.

“No question, we were playing 1,000 percent better when the game resumed,” said Okeechobee coach Eric Swant. “We came out and played well.”

Lake Okeechobee News/Richard Marion
Okeechobee senior Daisy Baltazar was able to play in her first district semifinal and championship in her final year on the team.

Midway through the second half, Okeechobee was up 5-1. Swant could see the game was well in hand, and made the decision to pull some players to rest them before the district championship on Jan. 31.

“We could’ve scored quite a few more, but we have a game tomorrow night, so we pulled most of those girls out,” explained Swant at the time. “Suncoast is an absolutely phenomenal team. We have our work cut out for us. We’re going to go with a defensive formation, try to hold them, and hopefully we get a couple lucky breaks and score a couple points.”

Beating Suncoast was always going to be a tough task for the Lady Brahmans. The team went undefeated this season and completely dominated Boyd Anderson in their semifinal match, winning 11-0.

Despite falling in the championship round, this season was still largely a success for a Lady Brahmans program that was able to bounce back after going 2-11 last season. Coach Swant plans to step back after this season and let assistant coach Bernardo Cornejo take the reigns next year.

Cornejo also served as head coach of the junior varsity team this season and recently founded Chobee Football Club, a girls soccer travel team in Okeechobee that concluded its inaugural season last year.

“I feel like the team is finally getting to where I envisioned they would be these last couple years,” said Swant of the Lady Brahmans’ season. “To be honest, I owe it all to my assistant Bernardo. He’s taking over and there is no doubt that they are just going to go up from here.”

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