Destin Lady Marlins make a good run, come up short in soccer finals

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

With nine wins under their belt going into the championship game on Wednesday night, the Destin Marlins were hoping for one more. But they came up short with a 3-1 loss to the Ruckel Rams in the Okaloosa County Championship for girl's middle school soccer at Twin Oaks Park in Niceville. 

“Regardless of what this says, I can’t be prouder of this group of young ladies,” said Destin Demetris Stevens as he held up the runner-up trophy. 

The Destin Middle School girls soccer team show off their runner-up trophy from the Okaloosa County Middle School Championship game in Niceville.

“This has been probably the most enjoyable time I’ve had coaching at Destin Middle School. It was a blast from summer to the end of the year,” he told the team and their parents as they gathered on the field after the game. 

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"They worked hard for one another … and went through positional changes,” he said. 

Stevens said the team lost a lot of players throughout the season due to sickness and injuries, noting they started with 20 and suited up 15 on Wednesday night. 

Destin's Gabby Padron gets a head on the ball during the championship game against Ruckel. Destin lost 3-1.

“I’m so proud of the effort tonight,” he said. 

“For the last six year’s we’ve gotten one of these,” he said as he held up the trophy. “There are a lot of schools out there that would like to have one.” 

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The Lady Marlins took second place in the 2016-17 school year, then earned three championships in a row, before placing second for the last two. 

The Marlins wrapped up with a 9-3-1 record this season, and a runner-up trophy. 

Destin's Keelie Kleppinger tries to make a run with the ball against the Ruckel Rams. Ruckel won the championship game 3-1.

In the championship game, the Ruckel Rams scored first on a high kick up the middle that cleared the goalie's head with about 12 minutes to go in the first half. Ruckel led 1-0 at the break. 

About eight minutes into the second half, Destin’s Dakota Serwein booted one in from the right side to find the back of the net and tie the game at 1-1. 

Destin's Eleanor Ballard comes up from behind to try to gain control of the ball from a Ruckel Ram. The Rams won the championship game 3-1.

Five minutes later, Ruckel slipped one past the goalie on the right side to take the lead.  

With less than a minute to play, Ruckel scored one last time to secure the win.