PANAMA CITY BEACH — Mosley tested the tensile strength of Gulf Breeze’s defense and finally found the breaking point.
Taylor Hallmon’s two goals in the first four minutes of the second half helped Mosley erase a 2-0 halftime deficit, and an own goal provided the difference in Mosley’s 3-2 victory over Gulf Breeze in the Region 1-3A girls soccer quarterfinals at the Mike Gavlak Sports Complex on Thursday night.
Mosley (13-1-2) collected its eighth straight win and will head to West Florida — a 2-1 winner over Arnold earlier Thursday — next Tuesday for a regional semifinal showdown. Gulf Breeze’s season ended at 17-4-4.
Stevie-Marie Mullins lofted a corner kick to the far post in the 75th minute, and the kick resulted in an own goal when the ball deflected off of a Gulf Breeze defender and bounced into the back of the net.
Mosley advanced to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2011 after suffering defeats in the quarterfinal round each of the past two years.
“We did it for each other,” Hallmon said. “We didn’t want to go out like that.”
Added Mosley coach Marek Betkowski: “It’s been difficult the last couple of years before we couldn’t keep the team healthy and viable to the last game. We always had somebody missing. This was the first time in a long time that we have had everybody ready to play.”
Hallmon began Mosley’s comeback bid two minutes into the second half when she found space inside the 18-yard box and blasted a shot past Gulf Breeze goalkeeper Mollie Johnson to pull Mosley within 2-1.
Hallmon evened the game at two goals apiece in the 44th minute with a successful penalty kick beyond Johnson’s outstretched arms. Hallmon’s attempt was set up when she was tackled inside the box.
Mosley had been threatening on the offensive end throughout the first half but came up empty on the scoreboard.
“We knew it was coming,” Hallmon said of breaking the scoring drought in the second half. “We knew we deserved to win.”
Alyssa Pejic gave Gulf Breeze a 1-0 lead in the 28th minute after a Mosley breakdown defensively gave her an open shot from the edge of the 18-yard box. An attempt to clear the ball out of trouble instead deflected off a Gulf Breeze player and bounced behind Mosley’s defense.
Pejic didn’t waste the opportunity with a shot that Mosley goalkeeper Mariah Rinehart was unable to punch over the crossbar before the ball nestled in the netting just inside the right post.
Pejic tallied her second goal in the 38th minute, dribbling 30 yards with the ball before drilling a shot past Rinehart for a 2-0 lead. Pejic was unchallenged until she got inside the 18-yard box, and she used her right foot to beat Rinehart low for a two-goal lead at intermission.
“I almost puked (at halftime),” Mullins said. “I was laying on my back and nausea hit me. I guess my body doesn’t like that.”
Rinehart finished with seven saves for Mosley, and she made two big saves in the final few minutes as Gulf Breeze furiously tried to knot the score and send the game into overtime.
“In the second half I felt like I stepped up like I needed to for the team,” Rinehart said. “It feels awesome to break the curse we’ve had the last two years and get over the hump.”
West Florida Tech 2, Arnold 1
PENSACOLA — West Florida scored soon after the second-half water break to oust Arnold in the Region 1-3A quarterfinal.
The Marlins tied the match 1-1 on a Gabby Champagne goal off a Kelli Crowley assist early in the second half. West Florida Tech held a 1-0 lead at halftime.
“Our kids played hard, they never quit and never let up,” Arnold coach James Gardner said. “The other team was a good team and they just won the game.”
Alexis Tanner made 10 saves in goal for the Marlins, who finished the season 13-7.