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Rivals meld to form champions

County players bring different styles to U-18 Citrus United and come away with a region title.

By DAWN REISS
Published March 31, 2006


Crystal River to Lecanto: We beat you three times this season.

Lecanto to Crystal River: But we won a state championship.

Crystal River to Citrus: Go home. You play dirty.

What do you get when you mix boys soccer players from county high schools and put them on one competitive team?

Trash talking like that.

"It seemed to work, since we won," joked Crystal River junior Jarrod Green, referring to Citrus United, an under-18 team that recently won the Florida Youth Soccer Associations' Division II Region C Championship.

"We all have different styles of soccer - Citrus is really dirty because they go at every ball hard and fast and try to scare you off it, Lecanto has a lot of speed and they move their balls forward to their forwards fast, and at Crystal River we tried to slow the pace down. But putting us all together made us play a new style of soccer."

Though other Citrus United teams have won this title before, it's a first for this particular squad.

"It was pretty cool," Crystal River senior Jonathan Livesay said. "The last two years we were pounded into the ground."

To win the tournament, Citrus United played three games in a two-day span on Saturday and Sunday. After being down 1-0 to Sarasota, Lecanto's Jacob Chenoweth set up Dustin Elder for a timing goal off a cornerkick.

In its next game, Citrus United used defense to stop the Hernando Heat, which scored four goals in an earlier game, with goalkeeper Alex Crandall, defenders Green, Tyler Deem and Sean Mulligan, and followed it up with forward Xavier Villachica off a cross by Citrus forward Bode Wright for a 1-0 win.

In the final game, Citrus United couldn't capitalize on shot attempts in the first half, taking 12 on goal - two that hit the cross bars - against Central Pasco.

Green opened the game up in the second half by stealing the ball at midfield and attempting to score. The shot was deflected by Central Pasco's goalkeeper but Wright pounced on the ball for Citrus United's first goal.

After a Villachica goal, Wright scored again off a Livesay pass for a 3-0 Citrus United victory and a tournament championship.

"It's the first year we've won this tournament and it's the biggest tournament of the year," Green said. "I thought I was going to be excited, but really I was just relieved that we finally pulled one through like we should have."