If David Seevers was cold before Thursday’s Region 1-4A semifinal, he was absolutely frozen at the end.
With the temperature in the mid 30s, the first-year coach of the Pace girls soccer team found himself drenched in ice water, as players and fans celebrated the Patriots 2-1 double-overtime win against Navarre on Thursday night at Patriot Stadium.
“That credit belongs solely to these girls,” Seevers said. “They are the ones who are driving this machine. I’m just kind of along for the ride and helping them as best as I can.”
After playing through 97 minutes in frigid conditions, Pace’s Hannah Abrams scored the game’s final goal.
The junior was mobbed by teammates after her kick sailed into the net.
“I just practice the motion all the time,” Abrams said. “Turning and shooting, turning and shooting. It was muscle memory. I don’t even remember what happened. I wanted it so bad for my team. I just wanted to get it over in overtime.”
After Pensacola-area schools were shut down by the threat ice and snow Tuesday and Wednesday, the host Patriots decided to play their region semifinal as soon as possible.
While both school’s showed a little rust, the result couldn’t have been better for the District 1-4A champion Patriots.
Navarre came out strong in the early going, taking three shot attempts in 10 minutes and forcing Pace keeper Katelyn Burkhart to work hard from the start.
As the Patriots began to exert more pressure, Caroline Torrens was met by Navarre keeper Julianna DeSalle and two defenders, resulting in a mini-pile up in the goalie’s box that ended with Torrens hitting the ball with her left foot and sending it into the net.
“She’s not a left-footed player,” Seevers said. “But she’s the only player that’s been working diligently on her left foot, and as soon as she drew back to hit that, I knew that she was going to put it in. I knew it was going to be a good hit.”
Navarre responded by attacking even harder, but lockdown defense by Burkhart resulted in seven saves in the first half.
In the second half, roles switched as the Patriots went on the attack and the Raiders were forced on their heels.
Claire Taylor, Abrams and Torrens outraced defenders and had wide-open looks no less than three times as Navarre players were out of position.
Nevertheless, the Raiders’ defense managed to hold out long enough for Navarre’s Elle Burkhart to make a corner kick in the final seconds of regulation to knot the game at 1-1.
Navarre held on through the first session of OT, but Abrams’ goal in the second sealed it.
“Navarre is an exceptional team,” Seevers said. “This is the second time it’s almost gone down to penalty kicks. They are a top-notch program and having to go up against them is tough. As time was creeping down (in the second overtime), the thought did cross my mind that we were going back to penalty kicks. “
Next, the Patriots host Fleming Island at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Region 1-4A title game.
“We don’t have a lot of time between now and Saturday. Unfortunately, we don’t know a lot about them. We just have to go in and try to play our game, see how it goes.”