CRYSTAL RIVER - When the staccato whistle blew, signifying the end of 80 minutes of fierce soccer, Citrus' Bryan Tobin and Crystal River's Jon Livesay lay on the ground at midfield, exhausted and bruised.
In another installment of Citrus County's most intense rivalry, the Pirates and Hurricanes played a physical and whistle-dominated match Thursday night, fighting to a 2-all tie. There were yellow cards galore, although the players remained gentlemanly in post-game handshakes.
"We always play rougher against Crystal River," said Jacob Arthur, Citrus' captain and a four-year starter. "But at the end of the game, we're still friends."
The Hurricanes struck first, scoring with 22 minutes left in the first half on Bo Wright's shot from 8 yards out. Crystal River countered seconds before halftime when Chris Dvorscak deflected a rebound into the goal.
The Pirates controlled most of the first half and took a 2-1 lead on Julian Palhof's header off a corner kick. Just minutes later, Jed Hernandez knocked in the tying goal.
The soccer turned especially sloppy late in the second half, with whistles halting play almost every minute. Crystal River coach Steve Ekeli said he lost count after 21 second-half penalties on his squad.
The game didn't go as well as Ekeli had hoped. The Citrus graduate wanted to beat his alma mater in his first game coaching against it. Even more, Ekeli didn't want the game to finish in a tie. He said he wants the state to implement overtime or penalty kicks in high school soccer. "I hate ties," he said. "I'd sooner nibble on a bullet than have a tie." Crystal River's Chris Dobson likely have X-rays on his leg, which he injured in the first half, Ekeli said.
BROOKSVILLE - The first game of the Hernando County Athletic Conference season was dominated by Central 3-0.
Despite the lopsided score, the Nature Coast Tech defense played well. Sophomore goalkeeper Devon Cox finished with 13 saves for Nature Coast (0-2). But the play of Bears senior forward Jesse Diaz was the undoing of the Sharks.
Diaz scored twice for Central - once in each half. The first goal came midway through the half with an assist from senior forward Jacob Grey. In the second half, Diaz scored on a penalty kick after being slide tackled by Cox in front of the Nature Coast goal. The goals were Diaz's second and third in two games.
Central (2-0) tacked on an insurance goal with 11:42 left. Alex Beiswenger scored on a rebounded shot attempt from senior forward Nick Sarabalis.