Sharks soccer boys advance despite loss


The Ponte Vedra boys’ soccer team beat Orange Park to earn the right to defend their Class 3A district 4 title against Matanzas last Friday night, but came out on the short end of the 2-1 final score against the Pirates. As district runner-up, Ponte Vedra still advances to regional play.

The closely contested match against Matanzas wasn’t decided until the game’s final three seconds. At that point, with Ponte Vedra trailing 2-1, the Sharks were awarded a direct kick from 30 yards out. Jack Bingamann took the shot, which looked to be on the mark but was deflected off-line by a teammate. The game ended on that play setting off a wild celebration by the Pirates who won their first district title ever. The Sharks – perennial winners – had to settle for the runner-up trophy this time.

Matanzas jumped in front at the 20th minute on a throw-in header by Nathan Hubbs, the Pirates’ leading scorer. Sophomore Rendon Crowley answered for Ponte Vedra just minutes before the end of the first half when he headed home a pass from Steven Sifontes. The Pirates regained the lead with 17 minutes left then managed to hang on for the win.

Ponte Vedra’s 5-0 victory over Orange Park – putting them in the title game – was never in doubt. Their 35 shots on goal bested the Orangemen by a wide margin.

The Sharks picked up their first goal at the nine-minute mark, when Bingemann surprised the OP keeper on a shot off a goal kick from about 20 yards out. Ten minutes later Bingemann set up the second Shark goal with a cross to Donovan Crowley.

Ponte Vedra took a 3-0 lead into the break, when Rendon Crowley’s shot found its way past the harried OP keeper. A pair of second half goals – one by Sifontes and the other by Rendon Crowley – sent the Sharks on to the title game.

Looking to defend their state championship, the Sharks will have their work cut out. They must first face Paxon and if successful, either Matanzas again or Stanton to make it to the regional finals. Said an optimistic Coach Danny Villarreal, “We’ll be OK. We’ve been down this road.”