Crystal River survives a late scare

Published January 12, 2006

LECANTO - Crystal River coach Steve Ekeli needed more than an aspirin after the Pirates' 2-1 victory Wednesday night against Lecanto.

The ball pin-balled around the Pirate goalposts for the last three minutes, almost ending the game in a tie as Crystal River senior Cody Shaffer got barraged in goal.

What was going through Ekeli's mind in those final minutes?

"What caliber weapon I had at home to finish myself off because the ties this year have been horrendous," Ekeli said. "It was a Maalox finish."

His medicine of choice?

"Maalox, Rolaids, Zantac, I'm just going to open up the medicine cabinet and whatever falls out, falls out," Ekeli joked. "Maybe Scope."

Crystal River started slow, as Lecanto (6-7-2, 6-4-2 Class 4A, District 6) took an early lead when senior Jon Lowe dribbled through two defenders and drew Shaffer out of the box to score early in the first half. But Crystal River tied it when Johnathan Livesay scored from 25 yards out. Junior Chris Fleming nailed the winner, scoring off a corner kick.

Crystal River (7-2-4, 7-2-2) picked apart Lecanto's defense by pulling the Panthers' sweeper and stopper out of position to weaken the middle of the field.

"That is my goal, anywhere I coach," said Ekeli, who coached Seven Rivers Christian's fall soccer program before coming over to Crystal River for the winter season. "I don't care if I'm coaching in Tibet ... I want to pull their defense out."

Bears shut down Wildcats

BROOKSVILLE - The field was a little narrower than his players are used to, and his team is in its first week back from winter break, but after Wesley Chapel's 1-0 loss to Central on Wednesday night, Brian Dorkowski had one explanation for the loss.

"They flat outplayed us," the Wildcats coach said.

Indeed, this game was all Central. In a dominant first half, the Bears strung together run after run down the field, scoring their lone goal in the 18th minute when senior forward Jesse Diaz knocked a shot into the upper left corner of the net. The play was set up by senior midfielder Austin Grey, who threaded a nice ball down the middle of the field into the goal box that, after a deflection, ended up on the foot of Diaz.

Though the goal was the only scoring in the game, Central had plenty of other opportunities.

"It could have been 6-1, 6-2," Bears coach Hank Deslaurier said.

Central will take it though. In their first meeting of the season with Wesley Chapel, which entered the game as the No. 2 team in Class 5A, District 7, the Bears were thoroughly outplayed and fell 3-0. And with the district tournament in two weeks, Central should take a great deal of confidence from the win.

"This is a huge game going into districts," Diaz said. "We need to keep our momentum up."

- DAVID MURPHY, Times staff writer