On Tuesday, Feb. 16, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas women’s varsity soccer team prepared for their matchup against the Park Vista Cobras in the regional quarterfinals. Both teams had a lot on the line, as they both sought to extend their proficient seasons in the playoffs.
The Eagles, who dominated in most games of the season thus far, looked as if there was no stopping their ongoing momentum. However, the Cobras would prove to be a formidable obstacle in their way.
The game struck at 5 p.m. with the Eagles seeking to thrive off their home-field advantage. As the crowd predominantly cheered on the home team, the Cobras applied significant pressure towards the skillful Eagles offense.
The teams gained possession multiple times, with the matchup becoming seemingly even-handed as the ball flew between each side of the field.
That was until the tight competition began to fade, and the Cobras closed in on the opposing goal. As a Cobra snuck past Eagles defenders with the ball, they were able to strike past the keeper to score. This gave the Eagles an influential reality-check, as the home team was behind by a score of 1-0 in the early stage of the game.
The Eagles saw that their work was cut out for them, and winning the game was going to be a difficult uphill battle. Nonetheless, they fought to stay alive as they held the one-point deficit.
“Our intensity increased. [The opposing goal] was a small breakdown that we were able to quickly fix for the rest of the game,” forward Molly Conn (12) said.
Eventually, the Eagles struck a golden opportunity as the ball entered their possession with forward Mia Engelbart (10) in an open position downfield. Dribbling the ball with a defender not far behind her, Engelbart slid to put the ball into the opposing net for a goal. This brought the Eagles’ momentum back, as they tied the game 1-1.
“Being a senior, this is my last year playing for MSD soccer, so every time I go out on the field I give my 100%,” Engelbart said. “After Park Vista scored, that made us want to work even harder to come back.”
Engelbart’s goal put the Eagles on the board, but it didn’t satisfy their desire for victory. The Eagles knew they had to score again to solidify a win, so they applied more of their abilities to achieve their goal.
The competitive teams saw themselves back in a close game as they fought to be the proceeding adversary. With the score differential back to its starting point, it seemed as though the teams were back where they started as well.
However, Engelbart proved her dominance and athleticism as she hustled past defenders to find herself in another position to score. With a helpful assist from her teammates, Engelbart kicked the ball for her second goal of the night. This allowed the Eagles to gain the lead by a score of 2-1.
As the Eagles entered halftime with the edge over the Cobras, the team still sought improvement. With Coach Laura Rountree pushing for a greater lead, the opposing Cobras’ hopes of prevailing diminished.
The second half went back-and-forth between the Eagles and Cobras until the Eagles gained another upper hand. The Cobras mistakenly gave the Eagles another opportunity to score, which they did to extend their lead to 3-1.
However, with the Eagles’ chances of moving forward looking bright, the weather forecast told otherwise. As the Eagles’ third goal was scored in drizzling rain, dark clouds advanced onto the field as a hard shower began.
The Eagles and Cobras continued playing in the pouring rain until thunder and lightning began to strike. Drenched in rainwater, the teams quickly made their way off the field and into the locker rooms to avoid possible hazards.
With only a few minutes left on the game clock, players, coaches and fans waited for what they thought would be a 30-minute delay. However, the storm pressed on, ultimately leading to the game being called at an abrupt end.
“I thought we really stepped up and played our hearts out. We knew Park Vista was going to be a really tough competitor, and I think everyone played really well collectively,” Conn said.
Although the game didn’t end as expected, the Eagles pulled away with a 3-1 victory and had surpassed the Cobras to advance to the regional semifinals.
“I am looking forward to continuing to compete in regionals. I will try to stay consistent by taking care of my health by mentally and physically preparing for the next game,” Engelbart said.
The semifinals will be played against the Boca Raton Bobcats on Friday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. at home.