By Official Florida FC
Few who attended the biggest girls soccer game at Jack Taylor Stadium history left disappointed Friday night.
Neptune Beach Fletcher advanced to its first state final in 24 years with a 3-1 win over perennial power Viera in a FHSAA Class 6A state semifinal. The Senators (17-5-2) will look to become the first Jacksonville public school to win a state soccer championship next Friday night.
Fletcher scored on a set piece in the seventh minute. The Senators’ lead did not last until halftime. Viera junior Taylor George scored her seventh goal of the season in the 28th minute to tie the game.
Viera looked the more likely team to score in the final 10 minutes of the half, but the Hawks (13-4) could not.
Fletcher opened the second half with a statement of intent as senior forward Angelina Madera stole the ball off the feet of a Hawks midfielder within four seconds and raced in at goal. Madera wasn’t able to get a shot away at that moment, but her knack for being in dangerous spaces would eventually win the match.
George’s pace and willingness to run at Fletcher’s fullbacks caused problems for the hosts in the first 15 minutes of the second half. From then on, the Senators appeared more likely to find a second.
Senior Josey Rossignol’s Olimpico in the 68th minute gave the Senators the lead. Her arching shot found the side netting and set off a raucous celebration from the purple-wearing people in the stands. Three minutes later, Madera put the game away following another set piece opportunity.
Viera did not immediately clear its lines. Fletcher fired a ball back into a dangerous area. Madera was there. She finished. Game over.
Fletcher advanced to its first state final in 24 years. The Senators will face Miami Lourdes (17-1-3) on Friday afternoon in DeLand.
“It’s incredible,” explained Fletcher soccer coach Bradley Plummer. “You talk about goals, you set goals and it feels so far off. It’s an abstract thing. We worked so hard and have come together at the right time of year.”