Arnold boys soccer team looks ahead to district tournament play

Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 10:53 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -For many area soccer teams, it’s district tourney time this week. That means their next match will be a district quarter or semifinal, with most teams needing to win in those matches to move on. For this area’s top boys team however, well it’s a different situation. Coach Jona Hammond and his Arnold Marlins, number one in the state’s 5A class with a 15-0-2 record, they are guaranteed a berth in the state playoffs which begin the week after next. Arnold gets a bye into the 5A-1 semifinals, which means a match against the winner of Wednesday’s quarterfinal between Escambia and Washington. Based on the top state and region ranking, well Arnold could fall in the semifinal Monday and would still be in the playoffs. Still coach Hammond wants his team sharp and ready for whoever comes next!

”No matter who it is we are going to prepare to play our best.” coach Hammond told me via Zoom Monday afternoon. “We know that in the game of soccer if you don’t show up, if you’re not finishing your chances, if you’re not playing your best, you can be beaten on any given night. You could have 20 shots and miss all of them. And maybe their keeper has a great night. And they have one shot and they make it. And you can lose the game. So soccer is a funny sport like that sometimes so we’ve got to be ready for whoever it is we face.”

Waiting for the winner of that Escambia-Washington match Wednesday gives Arnold extra time. On top of that, their semifinal won’t take place until Monday the 30th. So that means more than two weeks between Arnold’s last regular season match and the district semi.

“I don’t like it.” says Hammond. “I want to keep playing. We’ve actually scheduled a game with our JV team, we’re trying to replicate the game that we’re going to play in the next round. So the game conditioning it’s just different than in practice. We can push the guys really hard here in training. We have some technology to kind of monitor how hard they are pushing themselves, if they need a break. So we’ll do our best to kind of monitor that.”

Other boys match ups in district play this week include South Walton hosting Godby, Bay hosting Pensacola Wednesday in 4A-1 quarterfinal matches. And Mosley playing at Niceville in a 6A-1 semifinal.