Maclay, Lincoln, Chiles, St. John Paul II big winners in district title games
Scovotto’s overtime PK lifts Maclay to the title over Florida High in 3A-2
The Marauders have dominated their Big Bend district for over a decade. The title game has almost become second nature to the program. Even last season, when he rose to 3A, Maclay beat Florida High 4-0 to win the championship. On Wednesday night, however, it was a different story.
With back-to-back victories against host Florida High in the regular season, both teams playing for the 3A District 2 Championship were no strangers. A dramatic back and forth that saw Maclay’s offense stunned by senior Seminoles goaltender Francisco Armijo went the distance into overtime.
Marauders head coach Andy Warner picked up on what the referees called the game and urged his side to keep their hands in the box. The small recommendation made it big when Zac Scovotto received a PK in first overtime as a sophomore and was capitalized. Maclay weathered the storm and walked away with a narrow 1-0 win over the Seminoles to win his district again.
“It was a good win and takes us to 14-3,” said Warner. “This is a formative year for us, but I think it’s a bit more than that now.”
While Maclay has settled into the 3A sound since his promotion last season, his matchup against Florida High was one of the reasons he made the move. The Marauders remained unchallenged in their district down in 2A, prompting promotion. Florida High not only gave Maclay a competitive boost, but also created a new rivalry between the programs.
“The move to 3A was great for us because it created a new rivalry and we needed that,” Warner said. “We just didn’t have that in 2A. Being in city rivalries is what you want. You want that in every sport. They have [Florida High] improved and will continue to do so and I think we will fight for many, many years to come.”
Scovotto is a player warming up for Maclay in this tournament and the Marauders wanted to go to him for as long as possible. Against Marianna in the semifinals, he scored two goals, one assist and seven steals in a 5-1 win over the Bulldogs. He had the two best chances of the night against the Seminoles, hitting the post generally and eventually scoring the winning goal.
Scovotto is an important part of Maclay’s rebuilding process that has been in the works since last season. Despite winning back-to-back district titles and reaching the regional semifinals, the Marauders are still a young side looking to the future. Maclay not only sees youthful success at the varsity level, but also at the JV, which won the city tournament this winter.
“In all the successful teams I’ve had, we have a core group of talented players that provide a framework for the position,” Warner said. “The challenge with the younger group is where do we fit in and then you try to win everyone over for game time and experience. When you make the changes, the fluid isn’t there.”
“What we did is we kept most of the first and second graders in JV, and we had a really talented team…this middle school team is the future and they bonded. I think coming here through the group will be superior.”
Right now, Maclay is preparing for his regional opponent and the chance to see Florida High again. The Marauders will host Wednesday’s regional quarterfinals and have the option to face Walton, Bolles, Trinity Catholic or Florida High. Maclay defeated Trinity Catholic 8-0 in regional quarters last season before losing 1-1 (4-2) to Bolles in PKs.
Churchill and Nelson hat tricks in Lincoln’s 5A-2 title win over Columbia
Health was the primary concern for Lincoln, who entered the district game at the end of the regular season with a handful of players due to injury or illness. Hosting Columbia for the girls’ 5A District 2 title, the Trojans proved they feel better than ever.
Highlighted by a hat-trick from senior Paige Churchill, who recently returned from injury, Lincoln ousted Columbia 8-0 to win the program’s first district title in over a decade. Also a sophomore, Natalie Nelson scored a hat-trick when she watched her and Churchill equalize six of Lincoln’s eight goals. Sophomore Tizzy Holly also had a goal that night.
The girls’ regional quarterfinal game begins Tuesday and Lincoln has the option of hosting Fort Walton Beach, Orange Park or Columbia.
Chile’s upset Mosley en route to 6A-2 title
The Timberwolves cruise down I-10 East tonight, hardware in hand, upsetting top seed Mosley 4-2 for the 6A District 2 title. Chiles took control of the game early, beating the Dolphins 3-0 in the first half.
Sophomore Kendal Anderson scored the opening goal to make it 1-0, followed by two goals from senior Morgan Klees to take the lead to 3-0. Sophomore Reagan Wolfe added some safety to extend the lead to 4-2 and stave off a Mosley comeback.
Chile will host their regional quarterfinal game on Tuesday, possibly against Pace, Fleming Island, Forest or Mosley.
St. John Paul II retains district title in shutout victory over Port St. Joe
The good times continue with the St. John Paul II boys program as they successfully defended their district title, defeating Port St. Joe 2-0 to win the 2A-District 1 title. The Panthers are the third big bend team to retain their district crown this season.
The game was a revenge win from last season when Port St. Joe knocked St. John Paul II out of the regional tournament in the semifinals. The Panthers will host on Wednesday with the opportunity to face Port St. Joe again.
Jack Williams covers prep sports for Tallahassee Democrat. Reach out to him via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @jackgwilliams.