It was a memorable night all around for the Ponte Vedra boys soccer team, who not only honored its senior class against the Bishop Kenny High School, but also added to the festivities by beating the Crusaders 5-1.
Many seniors made their influence known in the game, especially senior captain Andres Villasana, who scored a couple of early goals, one that showed his range from far out and the other on a penalty kick that put the Sharks up 2-1 with 6:21 to play in the first half.
It was the first game back for the Sharks since the winter break.
“After a long break, I was expecting us to be a little flat, but we came out flying, and it was great to see,” Villasana said. “Last year we really wanted to win for all the seniors, and this year it was our turn.”
Villasana, along with the rest of the seniors have become leaders on the team, and it is a role they have embraced with open arms since the start of the season.
However, the Sharks added another goal in the blink of an eye as junior Jeffrey Tillman slipped in behind the defense and wound up one-on-one with the Crusaders’ goalie for a goal, a battle in which he won, for a goal of his own less than a minute later, and the Sharks led 3-1 at halftime.
“We were connecting passes and getting the ball behind to score goals, which is always sweet,” Romano said.
Not only were the Sharks up by two scores and feeling good about their performance to that point, but they also honored the seven seniors that are on this year’s varsity roster, including Ryen Theisen, Mark Romano, Villasana, Will Sheehan, Jack Lopez, Matthew McConn and Ethan Riutort.
“The environment and the fans out here tonight was good, and it led to some great times,” Lopez said. “It’s so hyped and fun to be a part of.”
Sheehan started in goal and made a diving stop to his right in the first half to keep the Crusaders at one goal and he and the defense shutdown the opposing offense in the second half as well, while the Sharks continued to control possession and capitalize on their opportunities.
Lopez was another senior who joined in on the goal parade for the Sharks, which proved to be an emotional moment for him, as it was also the first goal of his high school career.
He started playing soccer when he was 4 years old, including stints in travel soccer, however this was the first year he has played for his school soccer program.
“I decided to play my senior year, because I realized that you only get to do it once, and I’m just loving it,” Lopez said.
Joey Stephens put the exclamation point on the offensive landslide as he was one of several Sharks’ players that converged on the net and finished off a prime scoring chance with the confident swing of his right foot for the fifth and final goal of the night for Sharks.
“Being out there on nights like this just feel great, because every player on our team is capable of producing something, and I’m confident in giving any player the ball,” Villasana said.
According to Romano, the Sharks are a team to look out for down the final stretch of the season.
“At first it was all about getting used to each other, but now it’s really been starting to come together,” Romano said. “I’m feeling like this team’s going far.”