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Mariner tops Cape 4-3 on penalty kick to win District crown

February 4, 2019
By PETE SISK - Prep Report ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

It was every bit the battle you would expect between Mariner and Cape Coral for the District 3A-13 boys soccer title.

Nikola Salopek's penalty kick goal proved to be the winning margin in a 4-3 Tritons' victory Friday night at Cape Coral High School.

Mariner has won the last two district championships after falling to their archrivals in the 2017 final.

Article Photos


Mariner senior Pedro Reyes (10) scored a goal during the Tritons’ win over Cape Coral in the District 3A-13 championship Friday night. To view more photos from the match, see the Cape Coral Breeze Facebook page.

"We see some things on film, and we talk about the things that we want to do ..." Tritons' coach Martin Cardenas was saying before he got an ice water dousing - fortunate that Friday night was much, much warmer than the two nights before.

Soaking wet, Cardenas continued, "We believe that we can come out and perform at a certain level and do certain things, and then we get on the field and we realize that their athleticism, their desire to win, it's on their home field, and they make things difficult."

In a rivalry that has produced some of Southwest Florida's best soccer, this match was the equal of any.

"Not the results we wanted, but Mariner's a great team," Seahawks' coach Daniel Gross said. "They're a very senior-laden team, very experienced, and they played an excellent game."

The Tritons put massive pressure on the Seahawks defense and sophomore backup goalie Dylan Linares in the second half, scoring three of their four goals. Linares stopped shot after shot, but couldn't stop them all.

Cape fell behind 3-2, but pulled even again with 10:33 to play on Jonathan Bush's second goal of the night.

Salopek's penalty kick with 9:40 to go almost wasn't enough. A loose ball right in front of Tritons' goalie Robert Quintanilla slipped harmlessly by with about four minutes remaining.

"You could tell we were nervous in this game," Gross said. "But we had a chance. We tied it up and we had that chance at the end of the game. It was great game."

Mariner jumped out to a quick lead when Esteban Orjuela headed in a corner by Alex Franco at 34:26 of the second half.

Twenty seconds later, Juan Parra scored to draw the Seahawks (18-6-1) even.

Cape led 2-1 at halftime, thanks to the first Bush goal.

Before that happened, the Seahawks took a hit that might have devasted many teams. Starting senior goalie Antonio Garcia went down with a right knee injury at 28:07 of the first half.

Garcia watched the rest of the match in the company of athletic trainers, his right leg wrapped tightly.

Sophomore Linares took over in the Cape Coral goal.

"Dylan did excellent," Gross said. "He kept us in the game, especially in the first half. He played well."

Bush headed in a Parra ball to give the Seahawks a 2-1 lead 4:24 before the break.

"For us it was just a matter of weathering the storm," Cardenas said. "We knew they were going to come and play hard. We just needed to find opportunities and make them count. I think we did. We had a few in the first half that we didn't convert on, but in the second half we did."

Mariner, the top seed entering the tournament, improved to 22-1-4, and remained unbeaten against District 3A-13 competition.

The Tritons will be home against Immokalee on Wednesday in the first round of the state Class 3A playoffs. Lely, which defeated Immokalee 3-1 for the District 3A-15 title, will play host to Cape Coral.

Lely's win ended Immokalee's streak of five consecutive district titles.

Should both Mariner and Cape Coral win their first-round matches, the two sides would meet again next Friday at Mariner.

"We've had a good season so far, and we're not done," Gross said. "We hope to see them again next Friday."

District 2A-12

Clewiston 3, Bishop Verot 1: The top-seeded Tigers (16-1-1) broke open a 1-all halftime tie to win the district title on their home field. The Vikings (4-9-5) travel to Sarasota to open the state Class 2A playoffs at Cardinal Mooney on Wednesday.

Boys basketball

Bishop Verot 54, Donahue Catholic 17: The Vikings (13-9) roared out to a 39-6 halftime lead, then let the reserves get some playing time in the second half. Israel Torres scored 14 points in the first half and Denzel Redd had 13. The Shamrocks fell to 7-11. Lehigh visits Bishop Verot on Monday.

Lehigh 63, Mariner 44: The Lightning (15-7) finished 8-0 against Lee County Athletic Conference competition with their win over the Tritons (6-16). The Red Knights have a week off before a home game with Island Coast next Friday.

Fort Myers 64, Cape Coral 24: The 19-4 Green Wave rolled past the Seahawks (6-17) in Fort Myers' Senior Night game. Cape Coral is home against Dunbar on Tuesday.

Girls basketball

Island Coast 50, Mariner 22: The Gators finished the regular season 11-14 with a Senior Night victory against the Tritons (5-12). Island Coast travels to Port Charlotte on Monday in the first round of the District 7A-10 tournament.

Port Charlotte 65, Oasis 35: Port Charlotte (14-10) tuned up for the district tournament with a win over the Sharks (5-14).

Bishop Verot 43, First Baptist Academy 29: The Vikings closed out the regular season 22-1 after a home victory against the Lions (16-9). Bishop Verot has a first-round bye in the District 5A-10 tournament, and will face either Oasis or Community School of Naples at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the semfinals at Oasis.

Late Thursday

Girls basketball

Cape Coral 65, East Lee County 32: The Seahawks (18-7) had no trouble with 2-16 East Lee County. Cape Coral opens District 7A-10 tournament play Monday at home against Ida Baker. Cape is the second seed in the tournament behind Charlotte.



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