All photos by Ray Dimonda
By Mike Zima, Correspondent
Middie Kierra Marquis dominated in all phases of the game as host Fleming Island won its eighth game in a row Wednesday night, a 16-6 victory over Jacksonville Bolles.
The Golden Eagles, now 9-6, will put their winning streak on the line in the District 5 playoffs Tuesday night, battling top seed Ponte Vedra at Bartram Trail High School.
“Ponte Vedra plays on a whole different level,” said Fleming Island coach Clint Lyons. “If we can win a few draws [faceoffs], and possess the ball for a full minute, maybe we can frustrate them and be competitive.”
Wednesday, Marquis got the Golden Eagles off to a hot start, scoring three times in the first 14 minutes as the hosts took a 6-1 lead. When Bolles threatened to make a game of it by scoring the first two goals of the second half, Marquis made a play that turned the momentum back in Fleming Island’s favor. The ball was loose near midfield as at least three Bulldogs and three Golden Eagles raked at it. No one could gain control until the 5-foot Marquis burst out of the pack with the ball, finding herself ahead of the Bulldogs midfielders. She sprinted toward the goal, Bulldogs in tow, entered the box before the Bolles defensemen had a chance to shut off her approach, faked high and deposited a bounce shot by the stick of Bolles goaltender Lillian Daboul. The Golden Eagles led 10-3 at that point, and never looked back.
“She was all over the place,” Lyons said of Marquis, who won 16 of 23 faceoffs, grabbed a game-high 12 ground balls and had four steals, four goals and one assist. “I’ve coached boys and girls, and I have never coached anyone with a competitive desire like Kierra’s.”
Punished by Marquis for the zone defense they were playing in the first twenty-five minutes, Bolles coach Lauryn Ochs switched to more of a matchup zone for the second half, with orders for her Bulldogs to double team Marquis each time she touched the ball. Instead of stopping her, the strategy change only allowed Marquis to hurt Bolles in still another way— by setting up her teammates with high-percentage scoring chances.
The chief beneficiaries of Marquis’ interior passes were Karina Ortiz, who scored three of her four goals in the second half, and Riley Proctor, who a hat trick. Bulldog killer Gina Porazzo, who scored five goals against Bolles in last year’s Fleming Island win, tallied five more Wednesday night.
“If a team wants to take Kierra away, others will score,” said Lyons. “Gina is our leading scorer, and part of that is due to the attention paid to Kierra.”
Bolles saw a modest two-game winning streak end, but Ochs was encouraged by the second half, which the Bulldogs lost only 7-5, and by the play of Dabroul. Dabroul, who only stepped into the crease because of the absence of the Bulldogs usual goaltender during Spring Break, made 10 saves, several on shots from close range.
“Lillian stepped up, and she was phenomenal,” said Ochs. “She brings a lot of energy and commitment.”
The Bulldogs’ attack was led by senior middies Brooke Pitney and Rose Fay, who each scored twice. Freshman Brielle Bouchard and sophomore Morgan Wolter also registered goals for Bolles, which falls to 7-7. The Bulldogs host the District 3 playoffs, and will face Jacksonville Stanton in the opening round Tuesday.
“We will have to play hard pressure defense, and move the ball on offense,” Ochs said when asked what the Bulldogs needed to do to overcome the Blue Devils, who defeated Bolles 13-4 in February.