Around 900 fans filled Gene Cox Stadium for the Tallahassee Battle Lions’ first game of the season. Tallahassee put on a show for the fans, and their energy kept the game close against Jacksonville Armada. Jacksonville ended up winning with a score of two goals, while Tallahassee had one goal.
Tallahassee’s soccer team consists of many hometown players. Out of the 18 player roster, 10 of the players have been and still are local highschool students. Now, there are only five current highschool players: senior Lukas Reiding at Lincoln, senior David Munroe at Lincoln, junior Ethan Stewart at Leon, senior Drew Daunt at Maclay and senior Mateus Bitencourt at Maclay.
“It was a surreal feeling to be one of the few high school players selected, and it felt even better to be able to play another game alongside one of my best friends. The game was a lot faster and a lot more technical compared to high school games.,” Bitencourt said. “The opponents were more physical and faster as well. My performance was nothing spectacular, but I should have played better if I want to break into the starting lineup.”
The game kicked off at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 1. The noise of the band, along with the fans, outmatched the players, coaches and referees. The whistle was blown, and the Armada started the game. The Battle Lions came out hard, and for the first 15 minutes, they maintained the ball most of the match. However, soon after Jacksonville woke up and started to have more and more chances on goal. Before the first water break, Armada’s striker ripped the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal, putting them ahead.
“I thought that the game was great,” sophomore Efrem Rosenberg said. “There were hundreds of fans cheering the whole time and the experience was really fun. I think it is cool that Maclay players were allowed to play with the team and that it was fun to watch the seniors play again.”
Jacksonville Armada proceeded to have many more chances after water break and scored a second goal just before halftime. This made the score Armada 2 Battle Lions 0. The halftime was a well needed break for both teams after such an intense battle in the first half. Tallahassee came out strong again and maintained that strength throughout the second half. They denied Jacksonville from getting shots and had a lot more chances on goal this time around. In the last three minutes of the game, Cole Redd, on Tallahassee’s team, scored a nasty volley. All the Tallahassee fans jumped up and screamed in excitement. However, they were not able to score again; therefore, the game ended Armada 2 Battle Lions 1.
“As a whole, I’m most proud of our team fighting even in the 90+2 because that shows we have grit and will always battle,” Daunt said. “But at the individual level I’m not sure. I think I’m most proud that I got to represent Tallahassee and Maclay soccer because it shows the talent and success our program has had.”
It was Daunt’s first game for the Battle Lions, and he was announced as the Man of the Match after the game. The Tallahassee Battle Lions’ next match was against Florida Roots on Saturday, May 8 in Panama City.