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Arnold boy’s soccer team earning the spotlight with a high level of play this season

Published: Dec. 17, 2020 at 9:26 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG) -The Arnold boy’s soccer team is playing at a pretty high level so far this season, and that is garnering some attention from folks around the state and beyond!

The Marlins are now 8-0-2 with the 8th win coming Wednesday night against Fort Walton Beach, one of the two teams that tied them earlier this season. That match going Arnold’s way 5-1 at Pete Edwards Field.

I spoke with Arnold head coach Jona Hammond Thursday afternoon about his team’s start. I asked about it being an extension of a good season last year, the team 16-5-1 making it to the 4A state region finals. The coach says they lost just three players so the answer to that is yes!

“We had we had a couple of players on the bench they got some playing time, so you know we didn’t feel like there was going to be any drop off.” Hammond told me. “I think this is one of the best turnouts I’ve had since I’ve been coaching at Arnold, in my five years, for tryouts. And I believe we have the best team that we’ve ever had there. As far as Talon goes. As far as the first Guy to the last guy on the bench. So there wasn’t really much of a drop off and I think you can kind of see that in the play.”

One of the keys to the team’s success this season, familiarity with each other. Coach Hammond says most of these kids play together in the off season, on his club team the “Florida Roots”.

“And we’ve just built, most of these guys I’ve had for the past four years, and we’ve just built on everything we’ve been working on over the years. And adding new things over the years to what we’ve been able to do. So it’s been pretty exciting to watch. And now it’s not so much that I’m having to do a lot of coaching because they know what I expect of them. It’s keeping them motivated and just tweaking things here and there.”

Being unbeaten through ten matches, against a pretty tough schedule, well there’s good reason for the Marlins to be confident.

“I don’t expect us to lose in the regular season!” says coach Hammond. “And if other teams hear that they might be fired up to want to give us their best game. I think we already get that anyways. And we want everybody’s best game, we want to be challenged. You know I’ve reached out to other coaches that have winning records, or are undefeated, and hey can we get a game in? You know I want to challenge these boys. You know being ranked 14th in the nation, first in 4A, I think I don’t know top 10 in Florida, puts a target on your back. And we like that.”

The Marlins play at Rutherford Friday and then head into a two week break before getting back to game action January 5th at home against rival West Florida.

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