Eighth grade captain Michael O’Leary kicked in two goals to lead the Destin Marlins in a 2-0 victory over the Liza Jackson Lions in the semifinals of the Okaloosa County Middle School Boys Soccer Tournament in Destin on Monday.
With the win the Marlins advance to the championship game at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday against Pryor Middle School, who defeated Meigs 1-0 in another semifinal round.
As for the game Monday night in Destin, it was a sweet victory.
“I don’t have the words to describe how happy I am for the intensity that the kids performed tonight,” said Destin Coach Carlos Gonclaves. “I just want to say thank you to God and all the effort that the players put in this game.”
In the first 10 minutes of play, Destin got on the board with O’Leary booting in a penalty kick into the right corner of the net.
About a minute later, Liza Jackson went down and kicked one in the net. It looked as if the Lions had tied the game, but the player who kicked in the goal was called off sides.
With 16 minutes left in the first half, O’Leary went down and booted one that looked as if it was going to be good, but it hit the inside post and started spinning and then came back out.
Destin led 1-0 at the half.
Four minutes into the second half, O’Leary on a break away kicked one from the left side of the field and found the right corner of the net for a 2-0 advantage.
Both teams had chances at the goal, but to no avail.
“They came in here very strong,” Gonclaves said of Liza Jackson. “I have to be honest with you … Liza Jackson is a very good team. They have a few players that can hold the ball very well.
“This was very different game than the first time we played them,” he added.
Destin pretty much dominated in the previous meeting with Liza Jackson, according to Gonclaves.
On Monday, Destin again controlled the action.
“We had a break away and we scored … then we just played defense and let the watch go by,” he said.