It was a great Christmas soccer tournament for the Bulldogs. Even short three starters and six total players, the Dogs were able to win the entire tournament and beat Columbia County after two periods of overtime 3-2.

“This is the first time we have ever beaten Columbia County in our 10 short years of existence,” coach Frank Johnson said. “We have played them nine times, lost by one four times and tied three times.”

The Christmas soccer tournament was held in Columbia County on the CYSA fields Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 28-29. Suwannee faced Ft. White first Wednesday at noon. Suwannee beat them 1-0 scoring the only goal of the game with 33 seconds left. JD Hales took a corner kick and the kick was headed in by Stephen Pate.

The tournament was scored on a point system. Suwannee got five points for the win, one point for the goal differential and one point for a shut-out. They headed into a 4 p.m. game against Panama City Arnold with seven points on the scoreboard for the Dogs.

Suwannee had traveled to the Panhandle earlier in the season and defeated Panama City Arnold there. This time the Dogs took home the win 2-0. Billy Moran scored both goals for Suwannee. Moran headed in the first at the 55-minute mark. Moran scored the second goal off a through-ball by Corey Bridges.

The win added eight points to their total to make 15. The 15 points was enough to land them in the championship game against Columbia County.

Columbia scored first but Suwannee turned around and tied it right up at the 32-minute mark. Hales put a corner kick in but it was cleared out. Then Corey Bridges put one over the goal keeper’s head. The score was tied 1-1 at the half.

Hales scored the second goal of the game off a penalty kick. When Suwannee scored with 18 minutes left to play, Johnson said the intensity of the game really picked up.

“It became so heated the referees were on the verge of losing control of the game,” Johnson said. “It’s a strong local rivalry. There was a lot of pushing, shoving, hands swinging.”

Wesley Craig was removed from the game at this point after receiving his second yellow card. Stephen Pate was moved to sweeper to cover for Craig. But Columbia tied it up. At the end of regulation play, the score was 2-2.

The game went into a 10-minute overtime period. At the end of two of these 10-minute OTs the game was still tied at 2-2,which meant a PK shoot-out.

Johnson had to choose five kickers. Her picked JD Hales, Billy Moran, Corey Bridges, Stephen Pate and Cullen Boggus. Suwannee lost the coin toss and had to kick first.

Hales was up. His kick was blocked. Columbia took a turn and their kick hit the pipe. No score for either team.

Moran put one in and the Dogs were up by one. Columbia’s turn came and their kick hit the pipe again.

Pate kicked one in to put the Dogs up by two. Columbia hit theirs. The Dogs had a 2-1 lead in the shoot-out.

Bridges put his into the right corner of the net. Columbia put theirs in. It all came down to Cullen Boggus. If he put his ball in the net, Suwannee would win. Boggus sent his kick right up the middle. The Columbia goalkeeper was not there. Suwannee won and the team went crazy. The final score was 3-2.

“It was nice to win the tournament,” Johnson said. “But beating Columbia was the best. This is the ninth time we have played Columbia and we finally won.”

Three Suwannee players were named to the All-Tournament team. Salvador Mendoza, Billy Moran and Matt Yanossy with Yanossy being named Tournament MVP.

“Salvador had a wonderful game,” Johnson said. “Andrew Cundiff and Stephen Pate really stepped up their play. Matt made some outstanding saves against Ft. White and Panama City.”

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