INVERNESS — The Crystal River boys soccer team went from protecting a lead to chasing it in a matter of minutes here Tuesday night against county rival Citrus.
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead into halftime on a brilliant header goal from Jason Stukes on a corner kick in the final six minutes of the opening half. It remained a 1-0 game until midway through the second half, when a Crystal River mistake resulted in a Hurricane goal and the flood gates opened from there, as the host squad went on to a 3-1 triumph.
With 23 minutes remaining in the game, the Pirates had a free kick deep in their own territory. The ball went right at the feet of Citrus’ Joey Panyko. After a few near-misses on shots in the first half, Panyko wasn’t going to let this opportunity go to waste and his shot went just over the outstretched arms of the Pirate goal keeper for the tying score.
“We started to settle down and focus. I saw them do something wrong, took it and scored it in the back of the net,” Panyko said. “I didn’t expect to struggle like that in the beginning, but I knew I would turn it around.”
A few minutes later, Jarimyah Cook gave the Hurricanes the lead when he headed in an outstanding corner kick from Brock Crawley into the back of the net.
“I got up there. I felt like I got up there,” Cook said of his header. “That was a really nice pass from Brock to put it right in there.
“The first half, we had a couple great chance. But Joey got us going in the second half. He lofted that one in, that was beautiful. Once we got that first one, I knew we had it in the bag. Once we score, we just get going.”
The Hurricanes stayed aggressive on offense and kept the pressure on the Pirates. That pressure eventually led to a foul in the box, which Cook coverted into another goal on a penalty kick for a 3-1 lead with less than 10 minutes left in the game.
“I’m always nervous. You can’t not be nervous,” Cook said of taking a penalty kick. “But you just have to shake it off and put it in the back of the net. Take a few deep breaths, relax.”
The Pirates (7-7) had a couple chances deep in Hurricane territory late in the game, but no real scoring threat came from those possessions.
“You’re leading the game for a good chunk of time there, then they get that goal off a mistake. Then the momentum changes, our heads drop and we just never recovered from it. It just didn’t work out our way,” Crystal River head coach Michael Callaway said. “We were in the game and were able to compete. So the opportunity to win was there. So I think they should walk off the field being proud of the way they played, the ball just didn’t bounce our way.”
As for Cook and the Hurricanes (10-5-1), it was a third victory over a county rival this winter, with a chance to sweep all four games Friday when they host Lecanto.
“It’s always a pleasure. I haven’t lost to (Crystal River) since I’ve been in high school, so we have to keep that going,” Cook said. “We all get hyped for the county rivals.”