SPRING HILL - Citrus High goalkeeper Adam Sante Fe made eight saves while teammates Felipe Picado, Michael Jernigan and Michael Watkins chipped in solo goals as the Hurricanes blanked host Springstead Monday night at Booster Stadium, 3-0.
Springstead, which dipped to 3-2-2, out shot Citrus on the night 23-19 but Santa Fe bested Springstead's 6-foot-8 keeper, Kyle Beach, 8-7 in saves.
"The difference tonight may have been that they were fitter than we were. They seemed to win every ball tonight," said Springstead's veteran Head Coach Sal Calabrese.
The Hurricanes opened the scoring in the fifth minute of the game when midfielder Leon Berry intercepted a ball on the left wing near the center line.
He then crossed a ball to the right wing and deep where Picado out-ran the Springstead defense to get to the ball first. He beat three Eagle defenders and shot the ball past Beach for a goal, 1-0.
In the next 20 minutes of play, both sides had excellent scoring chances as Picado just missed scoring on a header from 10 yards out and later hit the cross bar with another header.
Springstead also had its chances early as leading scorer Nathan Leathers just missed scoring on a header and then 10 minutes later Zach Magrini hit the right post from 25 yards out.
But the Hurricanes, who improved to 6-1-2, added another goal in the first half when again one of their midfielders made a long pass that beat the Springstead defense.
Nathan Swander took possession of the ball at midfield and threaded a pass to Jernigan, who beat the Eagle defense and goalie Beach to the ball and had an easy tap-in for a score at the 30-minute mark.
"We're sort of an enigma," said Citrus coach Steve Ekeli after the game. "Some nights we really play great and some nights it looks like we haven't touched a ball in a couple of months. But those two balls we scored on came from them adjusting. We try to play possession futbol, but I tell them to not be afraid to take a chance on a long ball if they see the opportunity is there."
Putting it away
In the second half, Citrus added its final goal in the 53rd minute following a foul just outside the penalty box.
From 25 yards out, Watkins calmly stepped up and buried a shot into the upper left corner of the net for a goal, 3-0.
Afterward, Calabrese said his team may have been outplayed Monday but it is improving.
"We got caught on those two long balls, but they're getting more experience as they play. We are getting better," shared Calabrese. "We still have a long way to go and we have to fix some of the mistakes we made tonight. But we've been able to stay with the same starting 11 for most of the season. In overall play, we're building confidence. Now whether or not we'll be in the district finals at the end of the year, I don't know but we are getting better.