The Niceville High School girls soccer team beat Navarre 2-0 Thursday night in their first meeting since the Eagles dealt the Raiders a 1-1 PK loss in January’s District 1-4A championship game.
NICEVILLE — The Niceville girls soccer team has a simple motto this year: Be relentless.
The word is emblazoned across the chest of their black team shirts with its definition written underneath: Showing or promising no reduction of severity, intensity, strength or pace.
“That’s what we’re bringing this year,” Niceville coach Michael Denton said. “We lost a lot of players, so we decided we’re just gonna be relentless. As we’re learning, as we’re growing this year as a team, we’re gonna be relentless. We’re not gonna allow people time or space.”
That philosophy was clearly on display Thursday night, the Eagles claiming a third straight victory by beating rival Navarre 2-0 at the Twin Oaks soccer complex in their first meeting since dealing the Raiders a 1-1 PK loss in January’s District 1-4A championship game.
Niceville (3-1-1, 2-0-0) is 6-2-0 in their past eight matchups with Navarre, the Raiders last victory in the series a 4-1 decision on Dec. 6, 2016.
“It’s always a dogfight with them,” Denton said. “They’re gonna bring their most intense game, we’re gonna bring ours. The intensity is definitely there.”
The night featuring myriad penalties and stoppages, the two squads battled to a draw at halftime before Niceville broke the game open in the 43rd minute.
Only two days removed from an 11-0 scoring outburst against Crestview, sophomore Lili Brogdon banged a shot off the post, junior Elexia Nelson collected it and fired it into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead. Arms raised in celebration, Nelson met Brogdon for a hug just beyond the box.
Eagle sophomore Ashyln Fernandez delivered some insurance 20 minutes later.
After staving off a series of Navarre (4-0-1, 0-0-1) corners and free kicks, the Eagles drew a foul in the box and marched out Fernandez for the penalty kick. She aimed low and to the left. Junior keeper Faith Good, who posted four saves, dove to meet it, but the ball popped back to Fernandez, who needed only dribble it in for the 2-0 lead.
The Raiders had a chance on a similar play with five minutes left, Niceville junior keeper Lana Sorenson blocking Maia Vacks’ PK attempt, but Vacks’ rebound shot sailed over the crossbar.
When the dust had settled, Denton was ecstatic about his team’s effort. There were still mistakes to be corrected, but the Eagles’ energy matched the word on their shirts.
“If we play with that level of intensity in the last four games, it’s a different story in all those games,” he said.
Now — after playing five games in six days — the Eagles get a well deserved break. They won’t play again until they host district opponent Pace at 7 p.m. on Dec. 2, giving the team plenty of time to rest its legs, Denton said.
Meanwhile, the Raiders return to action at 7:30 p.m. Friday on the road against that same Patriots squad.