As Avery Curington netted consecutive goals within the final minutes of regulation, the Gulf Breeze Dolphins realized just how close they were to topping Oak Hall in the first round of the FHSAA playoffs.
But the visiting Eagles advanced with a 7-5 win, generating a 4-1 lead after a 1-1 tie was created five minutes into the game.
Curington (4 goals) and Oak Hall’s Mason Yonge (4 goals) went back-and-forth while leading their respective offenses.
“I think our girls left it all on the field,” Gulf Breeze coach Carlee Costello said. “We were lacking on our draws in the beginning, but we made some changes and Kate Reagan Costello changed the game around with her draws. Avery Curington turned it on and did what she needed to do to get us where we needed to be. We were just two goals short.”
The Dolphins and the Eagles have built friendships over the years from recent meetings (Oak Hall topped Gulf Breeze in last year’s district title by one goal) and summer travel-ball play.
Members of the opposing teams embraced and took selfies following the game — though the loss certainly stung for Gulf Breeze.
“Our girls will get the importance of what they did for the history of our program,” Costello said. ”It’s tough for the seniors to go out losing like this, but winning the first district championship was huge. There’s a couple friendships between the girls on Gulf Breeze and Oak Hall. Yeah, losing to them is tough, but at least they know some of their friends are moving on.”
Costello and the Dolphins will approach next season just as confident, if not more.
“We are losing 11 seniors, but we’ve got some really great kids that just picked up sticks and are ready to go next year,” Costello said. “Next year, we will have a lot of speed and I’m confident we will take the district again. We may pad our schedule a bit so some girls can get their feet wet. But, I think Gulf Breeze is it and we are gonna keep being it. We’re still the only show in town and we will remain to be.”
The Eagles advance to face Jacksonville Stanton in the second round.