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Seahawks hold off Tritons in 3A-13 final

January 25, 2014
By LYLE FITZSIMMONS - Special to the Breeze , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

In reality, it was only 9 minutes, 57 seconds.

But to Cape Coral midfielder Camillo Avendano, it felt much longer.

"It was absolutely the longest 10 minutes of my life. It had to be," the sophomore said, reliving the elapsed time he and his Seahawks clung to a one-goal edge before escaping with a 2-1 victory over Mariner in the District 3A-13 championship game Friday night at Tony McKenna Field.

"I looked at the clock plenty of times, believe me," Avendano said. "I wanted it to go by a lot faster, but you've still got to play the 10 minutes and get the job done, and I'm happy we did it."

The title match was the fifth in seven years between the city rivals and, while top-seed Cape High (21-2-1) blanked the second seeded Tritons (17-4-4) until Erick Rivera's right-footer beat Austin Lachmann at 30:03 of the second half, the remaining stretch was far more indicative of a rivalry get-together.

Another Rivera blast from 20 yards out forced Lachmann to his knees for a lead-preserving save with 8:10 to go, and the hosts' continued pressure through the final buzzer prompted many of Avendano's teammates, not to mention coach Aldo Nardiello, to join him in the pre-jubilation countdown.

"The clock just drags and drags and drags. We looked a lot," Nardiello said. "I was hoping we could hold the two-goal lead until the final minutes, because you know momentum was going to be with them. When they scored that goal, we were battening down the hatches and holding on for dear life."

The teams played a scoreless opening 40 minutes before the Seahawks took control midway through the second half with a pair of goals by sophomore forward Jonathan Jimenez.

Jimenez leapt toward the far post and headed in a free kick from Avendano at 16:19 of the second half, then returned less than seven minutes later for the same result when Avendano served up a corner kick from the left side at 22:51.

The goals were the third and fourth of the season against Mariner for the second-year varsity player, who also chipped in a pair of head balls during Cape's 4-1 regular-season home victory on Nov. 19. It was fitting redemption as well for the youngster, whose ill-timed foul in last season's district finale led to the Tritons' 1-0 championship-game victory.

Not surprisingly, Jimenez took particular delight in Friday's post-game celebration, in which the Seahawks did a full quarter-mile victory lap around the track that rings Mariner's playing surface.

"It was right place, right time," he said, "and God blessed me with an amazing talent with my head and an ability to play soccer. Far post, that's my favorite place to be in the air. The keeper's not looking and I just put it over his head."

Both teams advance to the state regional playoffs next week. Cape High will host the loser of the district game between Golden Gate and Immokalee, while the Tritons travel to meet the winner of that game. If things break correctly, the local rivalry could have a third act on Feb. 4.

"It's two passionate teams with soccer-culture kids. It's one of the great rivalries in Southwest Florida athletics," Nardiello said. "I sincerely hope Mariner will be successful and we'll get to do it again. If you've got to be eliminated, why not by one of your Lee County brothers?"

District 2A-12: Peter Routsis scored three goals to lead Bishop Verot's district championship 4-0 shutout victory over Clewiston Friday night at LaBelle.

Dillon Nemeth added the fourth goal while goalkeeper Brandon Doyle made four saves to preserve the shutout.

The Vikings host a team to be determined in the regional quarterfinal playoffs next Thursday at 7 p.m. at Vikings Stadium.



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