Lions feast on Tigers
TALLAHASSEE — Irene Carillo couldn’t find her touch, and injured captain Kyrsten Giebeig was forced to sit.
Columbia’s top goal-scorers carried the Lady Tigers all season long. However, during the final game of the season, the dynamic duo could hardly be found.
Senior goalkeeper Donielle Harrington did everything she could, finishing her career with a lion-hearted performance, recording 15 saves Wednesday night.
“Senior year, last game,” Harrington said. “I had to leave my mark.”
But a pair of early goals from Leon forward Katie Carter would be too much to overcome as the Lady Lions cruised to a 4-0 district semifinal victory.
Not quite the finale the Lady Tigers had desired, but they fought until the end, never surrendering.
“I asked them to play hard to the final whistle, and they did just that,” coach Lindsay Beach said. “I’m proud of them. They played their hearts out. These girls are like family — I’m very proud.”
Columbia (12-11-1) failed to score in both regular season meetings against Leon (17-5) this season. And the Lady Lions picked up just where they left off early on en route to their third straight shutout.
Columbia’s woes on offense started in the opening minutes as Leon’s stout center defense kept the Lady Tigers off balance throughout the night.
Carter’s rocket shot in the 13th minute, which sailed past Harrington, gave Leon an 1-0 advantage.
The Lady Tigers’ comeback chances got slimmer in the 28th minute, when Giebeig went down with a torn leg muscle.
“That kind of put a halt on our offense,” Beach said.
Not even a minute later, Carter found the back of the net again.
Things grew worse for Columbia when Leon’s botched corner kick deflected off the goal post into the possession of Maddie Powell, who punched in the open goal right before the halftime whistle.
The Lady Tigers tried to lean on others —like Carillo — in the second period, but the troubles on offense never ceased.
Powell put the nail in the coffin in the 71st minute, scoring her second goal of the night on a late penalty kick.
Leon plays Lincoln in Friday night’s District 2-4A championship. Lincoln defeated Chiles 3-0 in the other district semifinal to set up last year’s rematch.
Despite losing seven seniors, Columbia looks ahead to next season when they look to claim a district title.
“They stepped up this year,” Beach said. “It was a step in the right program. We haven’t made it out of the first round in a long time. so that’s something to be proud of. Our girls’ soccer program continues to build [and] has a bright future. I want to continue this momentum and raise the bar.”