Gallery: The Rattlers Defeat The Knights 3-2

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Posted January 17, 2023 | By Mark Pinson
Photos By Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette

Belleview built an early lead on goals by Michael Andres Juarez and Kenny Ambrosi and a Vanguard own goal, and the Rattlers’ defense held off a furious second-half rally to earn a 3-2 win over the Knights on Tuesday night.

The Class 5A-District 4 win improved Belleview to 9-4-2 on the season.

“I thought it was a great game,” said third-year Rattlers coach Steve Coy. “It was very competitive and credit to Vanguard for coming back in the second half and making it a tight game. I’m very pleased with our performance and it’s been a good season.”

The Class 5A-District 4 loss dropped Vanguard, which had a couple of shots to tie the game in the closing minutes, to 4-8-1 overall.

“We got behind 3-0 at halftime, but what I’m super proud of is we fought back to score two goals and were close to scoring another one,” said Knights coach Jose Cortes. “I like what I’m seeing from this team.”

Belleview came out strong and dominated time of possession and shots on goal in the first half. The pressure paid off as Juarez found the back of the net to give the Rattlers a 1-0 lead 12 minutes into the game.

A few minutes later, Vanguard had trouble in front of its goal and a clearing attempt accidentally went in the Knights’ goal to give Belleview a 2-0 lead.

The Rattlers extended their lead when Ambrosi drilled a shot from 30 yard out into the left corner of the goal to make it 3-0.

Vanguard refused to fold and battled back as Grayson Balthazar beat a pair of Belleview defenders and blasted a shot into the back of the net to make it 3-1 at the half.

With the lead, Belleview wasn’t quite as aggressive. Vanguard pressed the action with renewed vigor as Daniel Fernandez gained control of a blocked shot and found the back of the net to pull the Knights within 3-2 with 18 minutes left in the game.

Belleview, which had 12 shots on goal, just missed extending its lead when a pair of shots sailed wide of the goal.

Vanguard, which had nine shots on goal, had a pair of scoring opportunities just miss their mark and time ran out on their comeback, as the Rattlers held on for the win and a split of the season series with the Knights.

“It was a physical match and we’ve really come on as the season has progressed and I’m very proud of the boys,” coach Coy said.

Belleview wraps up the regular season with a home game against Forest on Wednesday night. The Rattlers begin play in the district tournament at the end of the month.

“I think if we can get through the first round anything can happen: coach Coy said. “If we turn up and put in a good performance, we can do anything.”

Vanguard closes out its regular season with a road game against Forest.

“We finish the regular season and then we go right into the district tournament,” coach Cortes said. “We expect to win districts and we could very well see Belleview in the district championship game. We beat them in the first game and they beat us tonight. It would be exciting to play them a third time for the district title.”


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