A month long preseason. A nearly four month regular season consisting of 13 matches. A season with many ups and downs, yet Deportivo Lake Mary clinched third place in the standings and will have home field advantage in their first playoff game which is set to take place December 14th with the time and location still undetermined. One word that perfectly encapsulates the whole regular season would be inconsistency. There have been moments of brilliance, tenacious on field attitudes, collectivity, and exuberance in play, but often as well there have been moments antithetical to the aforementioned adjectives above. The season started abysmally with a 0-2 start conceding eight times and scoring thrice. The first match against league leaders OFC Barca was a close game on the score sheet but on the field the result didn’t speak for the actual proceedings. Barca controlled a majority of the possession and missed several easy chances that could have extended the score line even higher. The second game of the season was against Winter Haven FC, a powerful and athletic soccer team. This is a game that still burns painfully in my mind as well as others that were there as Deportivo was truly defeated and had it not been for some heroic 1 v 1 goalkeeping by John Frost the scoreline could have been terribly frightening. Luckily, the scoreline was only 4-0 Winter Haven that day. Things slowly but surely started to improve with a 3-3 draw with Sporting Orlando. It was a very even game, perhaps with an advantage towards Deportivo, and the game was there for the win had they capitalized on a couple easy chances at the end of the match. The next three matches Deportivo finally hit their stride and received all possible points in the three games; winning all three and scoring 8 goals and conceding only three in the process. Then, the injury bug took its toll with several players getting injured over the next couple weeks stretch, some seriously and some not as much. Week 8 was a rematch against OFC Barca and unfortunately this game resulted in a 1-3 loss for Deportivo. However, this match, particularly in the second half, was much more evenly matched and respectable. Despite the two goal disadvantage Lake Mary held their head high in defeat due to the many created chances they had, advantage in possession, and team tenacity that completely rattled OFC Barca. Synonymous to the few weeks before the Barca rematch, Deportivo went on another three game winning streak scoring 10 and only conceding two goals. Team morale at its peak, Lake Mary finally seemed like they had reached top form, even leading the table for a short period. Then, the match with Inter Orlando happened in week 11. One game can change a season, especially a disheartening one. From start to finish Deportivo were clearly bested and unfortunately suffered their worst defeat of the season with a 0-5 scoreline. The performance that night was unrecognizable to the previous five games and I think many of the players and coaching staff alike were stunned, that with the recent run of form, could have been so utterly obliterated. A definite attitude shift occurred and this definitely had an effect on the overall team atmosphere and performances the next two weeks. The next and final two games of the season resulted in defeat with a 0-1 loss to Huracán FC in Oldsmar, Florida and a 1-2 defeat to SportsParadize who Deportivo defeated several weeks prior 1-0. It is not ideal to finish the season on a poor run of form culminating with a three game losing streak, but the beauty of the playoffs is that all the results prior no longer matter. All that matters is the game at hand, and the team that comes out more prepared, tougher, and tactically sound will win the game regardless of previous results. This season to be honest was a whirlwind with three coaching changes, numerous injuries, and large gaps of time between games. Field availability towards the waning end of the season has unfortunately plagued us as well and has made it that much harder to maintain that high level of continuity required to be successful. All these aspects mentioned will certainly be interesting factors that play a part in the playoff match next Saturday against Sporting Orlando.
By Philip Schafer