Destin Marlins win Okaloosa County middle school boys soccer championship

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log
The Destin Marlin boys' soccer team is Okaloosa County champs.

The Destin Marlins took control of the game early and didn’t look back in a 3-0 victory over the Ruckel Rams in the title game of the Okaloosa County Middle School Boys Soccer Tournament Monday night in Destin. 

About midway through the first half, Destin scored three times in less than four minutes. 

The first goal came at the 16-minute mark with Alex Srnecek booting a long shot from the left side over to the middle where Cooper Wood kicked it up the middle for the score. 

Destin's Alex Srnecek tries to hold off a Ruckel Ram. Srnecek scored two of the three goals for the Destin Marlins in their 3-0 victory.

About a minute-and-a-half later, Srnecek blasted a long kick from the right side that flew over the goal keeper's head and into the left corner of the net. Destin led 2-0. 

Two minutes later, Srnecek struck again from the right side when his high shot and found the middle of the net to put Destin on top 3-0. 

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In the second half, Ruckel made two big attempts at goal with Destin goal keeper William Greenwood stretching high to keep the ball out of the net. 

This is the second time in the past three years that Destin has won the Okaloosa County Championship in boys soccer. 

Destin's Jose Nolasco makes a move on the ball in the championship game against Ruckel.

“To be honest with you, the beginning of season, I couldn’t believe we’d go this far,” Destin Coach Carlos Gonclaves said. 

“But time has passed by. We make a very good team … game by game we realized we became very strong,” he said. 

Destin finished the season undefeated, with three wins over Ruckel. 

Cooper Wood, left, keeps an ey on the ball as a Ruckel Ram tries to move the ball. Wood scored the first goal for Destin in the 3-0 win over Ruckel in the championship game.

“Seems like the players improved. They want it so bad, to bring back the title to Destin Middle School,” Gonclaves said. 

The last time Destin won the county championship was two years ago. 

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“I know I had to rebuild the program … and then it took like two years to make this team strong again. But I’m so proud of the guys. They play very good; can’t take anything from them,” he said. 

Destin Coach Carlos Gonclaves, left, and the eighth graders on the Marlin team.

Gonclaves said the keys on Monday night were connection and passing. 

“They passed very well,” he said, noting the first half was much better than the second. 

“They play very good. Ruckel didn’t have a chance to breathe. Every time they got the ball, we have two players on them,” he said. 

The Destin Marlins huddle up and hold up the hardware after beating Ruckel 3-0 in the championship game.

“I just want to say thank you God for everything, God first. I believe God makes us strong and we get in situations in life ... we have to understand he is in control of everything,” he said.