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Lady Marlins fall in soccer state championship match

Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 2:30 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -The Arnold girl’s soccer team has fallen in the 4A State Championship match, losing Wednesday afternoon to Cardinal Gibbons 2-0 at Spec Martin Stadium in Deland, north of Orlando.

The Lady Marlins controlled the early part of the first half of the match, but missed on some early opportunities. Then in the 32nd minute, the Lady Chiefs took the lead when an unfortunate set of events led to the first goal. Arnold defender Sadie Fish was trying to clear a cross in front of the goal, but that wound up in front of Gibbons’ Samantha Zuini who was able to easily score. The Lady Chiefs carried that 1-0 lead into the break.

In the second half, Arnold with more opportunities including a penalty kick by Olivia Lebdaoui, but that was stopped by the Gibbons keeper.

Then later, Sydney Polivka would score with a header off a corner kick making it 2-0. Arnold unable to rally after that, and that’s how the match ended. The team’s final record winds up at 13-5-2.

“Essentially it was a one-nil game most of the time.” Arnold head coach Larry Cecchini told us shortly after the match. “We did some things towards the end to try to push up and get some opportunities to get that tying goal. We knew going into it that this Cardinal Gibbons team was a pretty good team. And we knew we were going to get about four to six opportunities to put it away. And that’s we got. We got two at the post, we had a penalty kick, a few other really good shots in close. Sometimes the ball falls your way, sometimes it doesn’t.”

This Arnold’s first foray to the state title match. And no doubt the players and coaches feel the sting of the tough loss, but there is reason for optimism, as this team returns a host of starters, losing just three seniors. So Cecchini has every reason to feel confident about this program moving forward.

I was walking out with one of the seniors, or no, one of the juniors and we said, “Hey, everybody that was on that field at the end of the game, every one of them is going to be back next year,” so how about next year, right? We will enjoy this for now, but definitely looking forward to next year.”

As for those three seniors, well the coach did try to comfort them some after Wednesday’s match. “I tried to pull the seniors aside and talk to them a little bit about, “I know we didn’t win the championship, but how special is it your senior year that you get to go to the state championship game.” I think they get it. It hurts a little bit right now, but I think they understand and they’re going to, probably, not even, in 48 hours look back and realize what a wonderful opportunity this and what a great year it was, a great way to end it.

The Arnold boy’s team takes a crack at its 4A State Championship Thursday on that same field in Deland against defending state champs Gulliver Prep.

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