Finishing was the difference for Key West in the first round of the Hickory Point Invitational. The Conchs took care of business by defeating a short-handed Harmony Longhorn team 4-0.
“It is always tough going into a game missing your starting center back, center midfielder and center forward but we’ve got good players and we were hoping they’d be able to step up to the challenge and fill the gaps,” said Harmony head coach Scott Marlega.
Right from the start of the game Key West had control. In just the 2nd minute Adam Swiecicki penetrated the Harmony defense and struck the ball from 8 yards out. Swiecicki’s shot was out of reach for the keeper and Key West took a 1-0 lead.
Right before water break, Key West would have another chance to score. Noah Cutchin was awarded a free kick and shot it from 20 yards out. The ball flew past the Longhorns’ defensive wall but hit the post keeping the score 1-0 at the half.
In the second half, Harmony came out shooting. The Longhorns played with a sense of urgency and would nearly score on a free kick. However, the Conchs picked it up with a goal from Jeremy Tilus in the 63rd minute. The Harmony keeper kicked the ball right into the feet of Cutchin who would tap it forward which allowed Tilus to score easily.
In the 75th minute, Key West would runaway with the game. Jair Torez crossed the ball over to Bidiue Noel. With the Harmony goalie far out of the box, Noel found the back of the net giving Key West a 3-0 lead. Tired and worn out, the Harmony keeper was unable to stop a beautiful shot from 30 yards out from Cutchin in the 77th minute which led to a final score of 4-0.
“I think this is big for us. Because of this game, we will end up playing two more games. We will be playing Leon in the morning and I’m confident in my boys. Leon seems like a pretty good team but but I think we will be able to pull through,” said Key West head coach Marc Pierre.
Key West took a total of 25 shots on offense, with only 15 on target. Throughout most the game, the Conchs had control on offense. Noah Cutchin would finish the night off with two assists and one goal.
“I don’t think the final score indicated how the game was played at all. I thought we played a tough game and it was much closer than the score shows. We got to see a lot younger JV players fill in for the starters that weren’t here and it was a pleasant surprise in a few instances,” said Marlega.
Key West will play Leon High School at 10am tomorrow morning and no matter the result will play again at 6pm later that night. The Leon Lions, a 4A team from Tallahassee, escaped Choctawhatchee (Fort Walton Beach, FL) with a 4-3 victory.
Choctawhatchee will play Harmony in the consolation bracket tomorrow morning as well.
“I hope we can practice before our game and work on shooting. We had a lot of shots on target but they were far away or straight to the keeper. We need to make sure we shoot towards the corners and capitalize on these shots,” said Pierre.
“It is tough not being able to play into the championship bracket and go into the losers’ bracket right away. Although we don’t get a chance at the good hardware, we will still show up tomorrow and compete. We will put our best foot forward and see what tomorrow holds for us,” said Marlega.
The Conchs hope to continue to win and possibly reach finals. For now, Key West must face Leon High School.