ORANGE PARK - St. Johns Country Day School coach Mike Pickett has gotten this year's team to a 16-1 record with a handful of top tier opponents sprinkled along the way with a 2-0 win over Bolles Thursday night.
"Bolles always brings a playoff atmosphere wherever they play and tonight was no different," said Pickett. "We had to be physical and beat them in the air and I thought we did."
Bolles, 16-6, and with top goal scorer Olivia Candelino with 30 nets thus far offering a top test for Pickett's offensive-minded defense.
"With a goal scorer like her, we didn't want to leave the ball in the back on our side," said Pickett. "She is so good at grabbing the rebound and burying the ball."
With two quick goals in the first half; from Hannah Lemieux and Julia Boaventura, kept the Bolles attack at bay with Pickett employing a 'closing' defense to stifle Candelino.
"I wanted the girls to close quickly on the first touch of balls that could be recovered and push ahead to Olivia," said Pickett. "We were not wanting their backs to serve up ahead to 12 (Olivia). It doesn't matter if we are marking her because she is so fast."
For the second half, Candelino had some space for short spurts, but defender Lauren Weiss and Maddie Moody kept close proximity to her fast slashes across the top of the 18 yard box.
"We watched film and they were going to target her in space and let her run," said Pickett. "The first 20 minutes of the game were fantastic. It's a good win."
St. Johns finishes regular season play with Christ's Church Academy on Mon., Jan. 27 and University Christian on Tues., Feb. 4.