By Mike Zima, Correspondent
A host of fresh faces made their debut for Fleming Island Tuesday night, but returning veterans Jack Hawley and Patrick Schreiber paced the Golden Eagles with five goals apiece in a 19-1 preseason victory over host Jacksonville Providence Tuesday night.
Second-year Fleming Island coach John Hawley, Jack Hawley’s father, was pleased with the lessons he believed were reinforced by the Golden Eagles’ win.
“Good execution of the fundamentals, including controlling ground balls and making accurate passes, results in success on the field,” said Hawley.
Fleming Island, forced to replace seven of 10 starters from a year ago, got an encouraging look at several newcomers. Addison DeAbreu-Reese, Zane Phillips and Alex Goria– all juniors who saw limited playing time last year — started on defense for the Golden Eagles and allowed the Stallions only five shots on goal. New goalie Corbin Hamilton, a sophomore, made saves on four of those shots.
New long stick middie Justin Szafranski was impressive, scooping up a team-high five ground balls and making a steal that led to a goal by Andrew Schreiber, who finished with a hat trick in his first varsity game.
Golden Eagles middie Eric Dobson, a freshman who Hawley is counting on to provide offense this season, had a strong debut with two goals and two assists.
“Eric is one of our best stick-handlers, as a freshman, and will be an integral part of our offense,” said Hawley. “He is getting looks now from colleges, and he deserves the attention.”
Face-off specialist Max Michaels, a sophomore, won nine of 11 ball drops, and the Golden Eagles enjoyed a 30-20 edge in ground balls.
The Golden Eagles host Jacksonville Bolles Friday, February 3 in another pre-season classic, and then begin the regular season at Pedro Menendez on Tuesday, February 7.
Middie Cade McCann scored Providence’s goal from short range off of a feed from attack Guy Bistro. Senior goalie Wyatt Peninger, under pressure all evening, made nine saves for the Stallions.
Head Coach Brian Theiss, who could have pinned the loss on the need to break in a completely new set of defensive starters and the absence of the Stallions’ top two returning scorers from last season due to playoff soccer obligations and to injury, instead praised the Golden Eagles.
“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Fleming Island as they are a well coached team. A model team,” said Theiss.
With 70 players on their varsity and and junior varsity rosters, the highest number ever at Providence, Theiss is excited about the prospects for the Stallions’ season. Providence has won district titles in each of the past five years.
“Hopefully I have got it going in the right direction,” said Theiss, now in his third year as head coach at Providence.
The Stallions begin the regular season February 6, 2017, when St. Augustine visits for a 7:30 face-off.