By JIM LINETTE
Ida Baker's Class 4A state championship girls' soccer team, minus a dozen graduated players, opened the season Tuesday night with a rousing 6-0 defeat of city rival Cape Coral.
Cape Coral’s Mallory Gerrero (13) tries to get positioning on Ida Baker’s Gabby Morales (18) during their match Tuesday night. More photos are available online at: cu.cape-coral-daily-breeze.com.
The only reason it was Baker's season-opening game was Monday's game against East Lee County was canceled.
Monique Elliott, who scored the game's only goal against George Jenkins in the state championship game in February, put the Bulldogs on the scoreboard just eight minutes into the game with the first of her three goals on the night. Shannen Pearl accounted for two goals while Gabby Morales added one goal.
The Bulldogs led 5-0 at the half and appeared poised for a mercy-rule victory. However, the Seahawks decided to flood the defense in front of the goal to cut down on scoring chances.
"We have trouble when teams use the prevent defense against us," said Bulldogs coach Dave Trepkowski.
The Bulldogs scored just one second-half goal, but it wasn't for a lack of trying. They fired 11 shots on goal in the second half after converting on 5-of-19 in the first half.
"It was a good start, but we are so far behind because I'm involved in coaching bowling," said Trepkowski. "I had to cancel several practices. I was pleased with the first game. We played halfway decent, but it's tough right now."
Seahawks goalkeeper Danielle Smith made a number of stunning saves at point-blank range. She finished with 16 total saves with at least five assists from the goal posts and crossbar.
"We are built on speed and like to move the ball quickly," Trepkowski said. "It's hard when things get all bunched up against us."
The Seahawks advanced deep enough into scoring territory only a handful of times, but never got a shot on goal. Bulldogs goalkeeper Angela Christiano never handled a ball except those struck her way by teammates in the second half trying to open up the field.
"My only disappointment was not getting my goalkeeper any chances," said Trepkowski. "I wanted to see how she would do. I actually hoped Cape would get behind our defense a couple of times to test her.
"We have a lot more speed this year, but we have a lot better communication between the girls. You can actually hear them at the bench talking out there."
Thursday night, the Bulldogs (1-0) play at South Fort Myers and the Seahawks travel to Charlotte.
North Fort Myers 8, Gateway Charter 0: Melinda Lukas picked up where she left off last season, scoring four goals Monday night as North crushed Gateway Charter in a girls' soccer season-opening victory.
Sister Miranda Lukas and Darian Leschewski added two goals apiece for the Red Knights (1-0), who visit Oasis on Thursday.
"We distributed the ball well," said Red Knights coach Donna Agostinelli. "We passed the ball well, back and forth, and took advantage of good scoring opportunities for those goals."
There were no save chances for North's goalkeeper.