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Cape, Mariner win to force showdown for district title

February 2, 2018
By PETE SISK ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The expected showdown between the Cape Coral Seahawks and Mariner Tritons for the District 3A-13 boys soccer championship is on for tonight.

Cape Coral (21-2-2) had to hold off a determined Dunbar team 3-2 in Wednesday's first semifinal, while Mariner (21-6) trounced Port Charlotte 7-0 in the nightcap of a doubleheader at Mariner High School.

Underdog Dunbar (5-10-3) trailed the Seahawks 3-1 entering the final 10 minutes of play, then came within inches of tying the match.

Article Photos


Mariner junior Alex Franco (8) works on getting the ball toward the goal in the Tritons’ 7-0 win over Port Charlotte in Wednesday night’s district semifinal. To view more photos from the match, see our Facebook page.

Scott Espinoza's goal with 8:48 remaining sent the Tigers into a frenzy in the late stages of the game. With less than two minutes remaining, a Dunbar shot clanged off the goal upright to the left of Cape goaltender Antonio Garcia. Garcia would be called on to make a save on another Dunbar shot before the Seahawks held on for the victory.

"I don't think we brought our best game, but in the end the results are what matters," Seahawks coach Daniel Gross said. "We're happy that we move on to the finals. Hopefully we'll play better."

Jeremy Jiminez of Cape Coral and John Cruz of Dunbar scored in the first half for a 1-all tie at intermission.

Juan Parra put the Seahawks in front with 30:47 to play, and Danilo Gomez netted what would prove to be the winning goal with 21:25 left.

"They brought it," Gross said of the Tigers. "They gave everything that they could give. I think they played an excellent game. They should be proud of the way they played.

"I don't think we brought our best game, as I said, but we won," he continued. "Our goal through the entire season is to win districts and move on to the state tournament."

Wednesday's win guaranteed the latter a berth in the state Class 3A playoffs.

Friday night will settle the district championship, and whether Cape Coral or Mariner will be home or on the road for the start of state play. The 3A-13 champion starts the state playoffs at home, while the loser will take to the road in the playoffs.

If Cape Coral didn't bring its best game Wednesday, it's safe to say that Mariner did bring its best.

The Tritons took an early 2-0 lead, then pretty much put things to rest with a three-goal flurry in the last 3:15 of the first half against Port Charlotte (11-7-2).

Alex Singh and Matthew Gallego scored second-half goals for the Tritons, with Gallegos' tally coming on a penalty kick.

"The boys played fast," Tritons coach Martin Cardenas said. "They moved the ball well. We capitalized on our opportunities. Probably one of the most complete games we've played all season."

It was that three-goal surge just before the half that determined Wednesday's match.

"They were being pretty physical and being pretty aggressive," Cardenas said of the Pirates. "We managed to keep ourselves onsides, which was a big problem for us the first time we faced them. They trapped us a lot. Then we had opportunities that we missed, but today everything seemed to click."

So now tonight will be what seems to be an annual tradition, Cape Coral versus Mariner for the district title.

"It's been like that for the last 10 years or so," Cardenas said. "Coach Aldo (Nardiello, former Seahawks coach) took over that program in 2003, and ever since then it's been a really tough battle with Cape. I wouldn't expect anything different on Friday."

Cape Coral won the first two meetings this season, 2-0 and 1-0, after taking district championship in matches against Mariner the two previous seasons.

Boys basketball

Charlotte 81, Bishop Verot 69: In a rare weekday early afternoon contest, host Charlotte (16-6) put 35 points on the board in the first quarter and went on to defeat the Vikings (10-11). Trace Darby scored 21 points and Andrew Shepherd had 20 as Bishop Verot came within 61-51 after three quarters. Denzel Redd added 11 for the Vikings.

Girls basketball

Cape Coral 64, East Lee County 36: Cape Coral (20-3) closed out the regular season with a dominant win against the Jaguars. Joilynn Lewis led the Seahawks with 18 points, while Crystal Tisme had 10 points and five assists, and Alexia Poposki also scored 10 points. Cape Coral is the top seed in the District 7A-10 tournament, and will open tourney play at home Wednesday against the winner of a first-round game between Island Coast and North Fort Myers.

Mariner 26, North Fort Myers 23: Sophomore forward Naomi had another big night for the Tritons (3-15) with 16 points, 12 rebounds and nine steals. Mariner closes out its regular season Friday at Island Coast. North Fort Myers (5-15) plays at Evangelical Christian School on Friday in Fort Myers.

Girls soccer

Mariner trio college-bound: Three players from the District 3A-13 champion Tritons squad will sign college letters of intent on Wednesday, Feb. 7, in the school cafeteria. Karleigh Acosta will sign with Northwestern State (La.) University, Acelya Aydogmus with Troy (Ala.) University, and Cassidee Rentsch with Daytona State College. Mariner plays Lely at home on Tuesday in the first round of the state Class 3A playoffs.

Tuesday reports

Boys basketball

Cape Coral 75, Ida Baker 59: The Bulldogs made the Seahawks work for the win before Cape pulled away in the late going. Bryan Markovich and Harwin Francois each scored 18 points for Cape Coral, with Markovich adding 10 rebounds. Also for Cape, James Gibson had 16 points and nine boards, and Travaun Smaller also scored 16. Ida Baker was led by Blake Donnelly's 17 points, with Corey Friar scoring 14. Cape (16-6, 8-3 District 7A-10) remains one game behind Charlotte for the top seed in next week's district tournament. Ida Baker is 4-15, 2-9. Cape Coral is home Friday against North Fort Myers, while Ida Baker has a game Thursday at East Lee County.

Bishop Verot 72, East Lee County 66: The Vikings (10-10) picked up a road non-district win as Trace Darby poured in 25 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Andrew Shepherd scored 16 and Noah Brittenham 15 going 7-for-7 from the field for Bishop Verot.

Lemon Bay 71, Island Coast 51: The Manta Rays won their seventh game in a row to improve to 14-6, 7-4 in District 7A-10. Island Coast slipped to 3-16, 1-6. Lemon Bay is home against Ida Baker on Friday, while Island Coast is at Charlotte on Friday.

Port Charlotte 55, North Port Myers 40: Port Charlotte (12-5, 7-3) picked up a District 7A-10 victory at North Fort Myers (3-16, 1-7). North plays at Cape Coral on Friday.

Boys soccer

District Tournaments

2A-12 at LaBelle

Clewiston 3, Oasis 2: The Sharks fell short in the district 2A-12 semifinals, ending their season with a 7-7-3 record. Clewiston (14-3-1) advanced to Friday's championship match.

LaBelle 1, Bishop Verot 0: Host LaBelle (16-2-3) eked out a semifinal victory against Bishop Verot (7-14-3) to set up a District 2A-12 championship match against Clewiston. The Cowboys scored the game's only goal in the final 20 minutes.


Gulf Coast 4, Ida Baker 0: Top-seeded Gulf Coast (12-6-3) ended Ida Baker's (6-15) season in Naples during the second round of the district tournament.

Girls basketball

Southwest Florida Christian 63, North Fort Myers 19: Southwest Florida Christian improved its record to 18-5 behind 20 points from Rebekah Bergquist. North is home against Mariner on Wednesday.

LaBelle 74, Ida Baker 47: LaBelle (10-13) earned a home win against Ida Baker (1-16). The Bulldogs play East Lee County on Thursday.

Cape Coral 66, Mariner 22: The Seahawks (19-3) downed the rival Tritons (2-15). For Mariner, sophomore Naomi Darrett had 12 rebounds and six steals. The Tritons' leading scorers were seniors Alyson Smith with eight points and Caitlin O'Connor with five. Mariner plays at North Fort Myers on Wednesday, while Cape Coral is home against East Lee County.

Cypress Lake 37, Oasis 34: Maddie Chaney had 14 points for the Sharks, and Dana Esteve had eight points and seven blocked shots. Oasis (7-11) is at Island Coast on Thursday.



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