The Cougars advanced to the district finals after a big win over Winter Haven.
Durant girls soccer moved to 15-3 on the year and advanced to their district championship after a 6-0 semifinal win over Winter Haven on Monday night.
Durant controlled possession from the opening whistle, earning a corner kick opportunity in just the second minute following a run up the right side from junior striker Rachel Horn, but the Cougars were unable to capitalize. And in the fifth minute, despite Durant’s significant advantage in possession, Winter Haven was able to counter with an opportunity of their own but the Cougars’ defense was able to stand tall and quickly shut down one of Winter Haven’s few meaningful offensive opportunities on the night. Over the next 10 minutes Durant had their chances, with shots from senior captain Katlyn Levasseur and junior captain Kassidy Oliver turned away and a shot from sophomore forward Mykala Ulrich rattling off the post.
In the 21st minute Durant was finally able to find the back of the net as Ulrich led the charge with a run up the right side, only for her attempted cross to be sent out of danger’s way for a throw in. On the ensuing throw, Ulrich put the ball in the box where it rattled around goal area before Horn was finally able to put the chance away and give the Cougars a 1-0 lead.
Despite continued possession in their offensive third throughout the remainder of the first half, Durant was unable to tack on another goal as the whistle sounded for halftime and the Cougars clung to their 1-0 lead.
Horn had another opportunity in front of goal early in the second half, the chance saved by Winter Haven’s keeper to hold the deficit at one for the time being, but Durant broke through again in the 49th minute. On another run up the right side Ulrich sent a beautiful cross into the box and just past the outstretched foot of her awaiting teammate, but Winter Haven was unable to clear the ball as it was gathered at the top of the box by Oliver, passed outside to Ulrich and sent back in where it was finished by freshman Addison Kapustiak to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead.
At that point the floodgates opened for the Durant offense. Freshman midfielder Kendal Vician added a third goal on a shot from the top of the box in the 52nd minute, followed by a goal from Ulrich in the 56th minute, followed by a goal from Horn off of a great cross from the left wing by Vician in the 60th minute. With time winding down and less than 15 minutes remaining in the contest, Levasseur sent a ball into the box that was deflected by Horn right to the foot of freshman Emily Hein who put the Cougars up 6-0 and sealed Durant’s semifinal victory, earning them a spot in the district finals against Newsome on Wednesday.
Newsome was a familiar foe for Durant, ending the Cougars’ postseason run with a 2-0 victory in the district semifinals last year before the two teams split their regular season series this year, with Durant taking a 3-1 victory over the Wolves in early December before falling 2-1 against them on Jan. 19.
Not only is Newsome a rock solid opponent — finishing the year at 15-3 — but the Cougars were additionally forced to enter the contest without two strong starters in Karlie Collins and Emma Harnage as Collins suffered an ACL injury against Steinbrenner on Jan. 13 and Harnage tends to a head injury.
UPDATE: Durant lost to Newsome by a final score of 3-1 in the district championship on Wednesday, with the Cougars’ lone goal coming from Oliver.