"Walk-off" win is a term usually applied to baseball games won in the home ream's last at-bat. The Mariner Tritons got one on the soccer pitch Wednesday night, courtesy of Golden Gate, at Tony McKenna Field.
The Tritons were handed a 1-0 win when Golden Gate walked off the field with eight minutes remaining, and boarded the bus for the long ride home.
"I've never run into that before," said Tritons coach Martin Cardenas. "That team lacks character from the top down. I guess they are used to going undefeated, but they couldn't figure out how to break through and beat us."
The Tritons took a 1-0 lead in the 33rd minute of the first half. Travis Pacheco was running down a free ball close to the goal and tumbled to the ground when the Titans' goalkeeper took his legs out from under him without securing the ball. A penalty kick was awarded the Tritons.
Senior Tim Thomas got a two-for-one special, blasting the PK to the keeper's left. The ball caromed off the keeper back toward Thomas, who then buried it inside the left post for the game-winner. The rest of the game was played with the Tritons pressuring nearly every pass and penetration by the Titans from deep in the defensive zone to deep in the offensive zone.
"We pride ourselves on being in shape," said Cardenas. "We played excellent defense and counter attack as much as we can. This was not our strongest lineup tonight. We had two guys out, but I am happy with our effort."
The Tritons got off a total of six shots on goal with one finding the net. The Titans got off seven shots on goal, all saved by Mariner keeper Jacob Olmstead, including five in the second half as the Titans became desperate to score.
Then, with eight minutes remaining, the Tritons stopped a Titans' advance into the offensive zone with Pacheco reversing the play up the sideline in front of the team benches. He was tripped up and officials issued a yellow card to the offending Titan. During the lengthy substitution and Pacheco being attended to before play resumed, Titans coach Dwight Morgan shouted to officials about a yellow card. Officials slapped Morgan with a yellow card, and then a red card. Morgan then pulled his team off the field.
Morgan's action likely will result in an automatic fine and three-week suspension.
"When we touched the ball we did really well," added Cardenas. "We created some opportunities and we did what we do best on defense."
That defense included superb play by Isaiah Romano, Tobie Lara, Justin Kuchle, Isaias Velasquez and at times Tyler Till and Josh Teeter. They used superior speed to repeatedly beat the Titans to free balls on the wings and in the middle, turning offensive surges in the opposite direction.
The Tritons (13-2-2) host their six-team Triton Invitational next Thursday starting at 8 a.m.
Mariner 8, Golden Gate 0: Freshman Holly Fritz turned in a hat trick Wednesday night to lead Mariner back into the victory column after suffering their first defeat in 12 games 24 hours earlier in a loss to Fort Myers.
Fritz also had three assists to go with her three goals. Alejandra Muro-Solis and Sam Kirby contributed two goals apiece and Emily DiRoma added one goal. Junior Megan Fritz collected three assists while goalkeeper Marisa Cardenas did not have to make a save to record the mercy-rule shutout.
"We started a new (win) streak and I hope it goes for a long time," said Tritons coach Lisa Schwarz. "We were making our passes and clicking as a team tonight. The girls were determined to start a new streak."
The Tritons (12-2-2) host their Tritons Invitational next Thursday with the first of several games starting at 8 a.m.
Barron Collier 53, Mariner 39: The Mariner Tritons hit a big pothole in the first two quarters and found themselves trailing 27-12 at halftime in Wednesday night's loss at Barron Collier.
By the time the Tritons fixed the flat and got rolling, it was too late.
"We came out flat for whatever reason," said Tritons coach James Harris. "We battled back and cut it to eight points at one point, but you expend so much energy trying to catch up that with one momentum change the lead balloons up again."
The Tritons only had one double-figure scorer - Kendrec Ferrara with 13 points and six rebounds. Rick Moore grabbed five boards.
The Cougars held off the Tritons behind Deion Clark's game-high 25 points.
"We have to learn that when the ball goes up we have to answer the bell," said Harris. "It's still a young season."
The Tritons (7-2) take on Miami Norland at 4:15 p.m. Saturday at Bishop Verot in the Sunshine Series of the City of Palms Classic.
Mariner 7 5 14 13 - 39
Barron Collier 16 11 13 12 - 53
MARINER 39 - Moore 5, Minto 9, Hunter 10, Blissett 2, Ferrara 13. Totals: 17 1-2 39.
3PG: Moore 1, Hunter 2, Ferrara 1.
COLLIER 53 - Clark 25, Barcel 4, hayes 4, Tormey 5, Nealon 8, Woods 2, McElroy 3. Totals: 19 13-15 53.
3PG: Nealon 1, McElroy 1.