The Cougars were handed just their second loss of the season as they fell short against the Warriors in a 3-1 contest.
Durant girls soccer made the trip over to Lutz on a cold Friday evening last week as they faced one of their toughest opponents on this year’s schedule in an undefeated Steinbrenner Warriors squad, falling 3-1 in just their second loss of the season.
The first half was extremely back and forth, with much of the game being played in the middle third as both defenses were able to largely stifle any potential chances coming out of the strong forward play that both teams have at their disposal.
In the 17th minute, Durant earned their best offensive opportunity of the contest to that point as forward Rachel Horn forced a turnover in the offensive third, taking possession from Steinbrenner’s left back and sending a cross into the box and past the outstretched hand of the Warriors’ keeper as she laid out to break up the pass in. But despite the chance, the pass was unable to find the foot of any Cougars and cruised out of the box and away from danger. In the 21st minute, fresh off of a stoppage in play, Steinbrenner put together a strong run of their own up the right side, leading to a shot that was deflected just wide of the net and sent out for a corner kick. The corner was sent in toward goal and ricocheted into the box off the post, put back toward net and sent out off for another corner off of a Durant defender. The ensuing corner was then sent to the far post, headed back into the box but eventually cleared by the Cougars. Late in the half Durant put together a pair of chances, starting with another strong play to steal possession up the right side by winger MyKala Ulrich, pushed into the 18-yard box and fired low and aimed just inside the near post only to be narrowly saved by a diving Steinbrenner keeper. And a few moments later, Ulrich once again controlled possession up the right wing before creating enough space to send a low cross into the box and just past the outstretched foot of Horn as she looked to redirect the pass on frame.
But despite the late opportunities from Durant, it was Steinbrenner that ultimately opened the scoring in the 37th minute as Elyse Thornton found the back of the net to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead heading into halftime.
Durant opened the half strong with consistent pressure in the offensive third but were once again held without a goal, and Steinbrenner wasted no time tilting the pitch back in their favor with a response. In the 48th minute, Steinbrenner was able to force a turnover on Durant’s side of the field, resulting in a stellar shot from outside the box, sent off the post and out for a goal kick. A few moments later, freshman Kendal Vician controlled possession for the Cougars into the 18-yard box, passed in front of goal where the ensuing shot was sent just over the bar. And in the 52nd minute the Warriors added to their lead as a cross into the box was directed on goal and kept out by a fantastic save by Durant’s junior keeper Taylor Crone, only for the rebound to fall right at the feet of Steinbrenner forward Aaliyah Pitts who cleaned up the rebound opportunity for a 2-0 lead. And in the 57th minute the Warriors tacked on one more as a shot from Thornton rattled off the crossbar and deflected back into the box where Ciara Bramlett put the second-chance opportunity back on goal to give the Warriors a 3-0 lead.
In the 65th minute Durant added their lone goal of the evening as a great through ball up the left side was corralled by defender Emma Harnage – moved up to left wing in the second half as the Cougars chased the contest – and sent into the box, redirected on goal and past the Steinbrenner keeper by Horn.
The loss was just Durant’s second of the season as they moved to 14-2 on the year, with their only other loss coming in a 2-1 final against 13-2 Tampa Catholic in the Tampa Bay Top 10 semifinals in December. With their regular season coming to an end, Durant will enter their tournament play as the district’s top seed after finishing the year with a perfect 3-0 record in district games.