Lake Wales Gets Past Winter Haven With Late Header
Sat. January 19, 2013 at 3:00 a.m. | By Bill Kemp
Winter Haven's Emily Ober and Lake Wales' Samantha Gunton go up for a header during Friday night's Class 3A, District 13 championship game at Denison Stadium. Lake Wales won and will start regionals at home. (Photo by PAUL CRATE | LEDGER MEDIA GROUP)
By BILL KEMP
LEDGER MEDIA GROUP
WINTER HAVEN | There were no easy wins in the Class 3A, District 13 girls soccer tournament. So it only makes sense the championship was decided by a freshman and her collarbone.
With just over 12 minutes remaining in regulation, Kailey Jo Smith's free kick was deflected by the Winter Haven goalkeeper and Lake Wales freshman Mariah Daly redirected the rebound back into the net to give the Highlanders a 3-2 win and the district championship Friday at Denison Stadium.
"I knew God had a plan and I was just thankful to be a part of it," Daly said. "It hit the goalie's hands and bounced. I hit it with the inside of my neck and shoulder. It bounced back and when I saw it go in I knew we had it. It's an amazing feeling."
Lake Wales will host the District 14 runner-up Rockledge in the Class 3A regional quarterfinals Wednesday at Legion Field. Winter Haven will travel to play District 14 champion Merritt Island.
"We're excited about being able to host especially since it is on a Wednesday in the middle of the week and we have home-field advantage," Lake Wales head coach Ashley Cockrell said.
Junior forward Laura Borders gave Winter Haven a 2-1 lead at the 37:17 mark of the second half on a slow-rolling goal, but the Highlanders' Kayla Shelton tied the game 2-2 with 19:40 remaining.
"It was very stressful. You're worried that your team is going to keep composure and keep their heads up and just do what the need to do. And our girls were able to do that," Cockrell said.
Winter Haven (9-3-3), a team that had overcome several injuries this year, jumped out to an early 1-0 lead at the 32:33 mark of the first half on an Emily Ober goal.
"They played awesome. They gutted it out. They pulled together. To come from where they did at the beginning of the year, it was awesome," Winter Haven head coach Josh Williams said.
Lake Wales (12-6) tied the game on goal by Smith at 28:52 of the first half. The senior forward was marked heavily by Winter Haven defenders most of the game.
"We kind of expected it. Their coaches are really smart, their players, too. That's just good coaching," Cockrell said.