By Ian Bolger/Florida Roots FC
The Florida Roots Futbol Club (1-10-2) suffered their second straight loss against Pensacola FC (8-3-2), 6-2, on Thursday evening at the Panama City Beach Sports Complex. They scored two late goals in the second half to cut the deficit down to three goals, but it wasn’t enough to make the comeback in their final home game.
With the dominant win this evening, Pensacola has officially won the inaugural 850 Cup. The Cup goes to the team within the 850 area code with the best head-to-head record and Pensacola reigned supreme over the Roots and Tallahassee SC this season.
“We struggled in the first half, but then we just had to fight for the city and for pride,” forward Sammy Sanchez said. “In the second half, we proved that we can compete in this league.”
The Roots came out strong for the first few minutes with forward Patrick Guffey just missing on a shot from outside the box in the fourth minute of the game. The momentum was halted when Pensacola converted on their first goal of the game in the 11th minute.
Just two minutes later, Pensacola came back and put in another goal to expand their lead to two goals. In the 23rd minute, they repeated what they did from earlier in the game and scored another set of goals in a span of three minutes to bring their lead up to four goals.
In the 30th minute, Pensacola scored another goal just for safe measures to go into halftime with a dominant five-goal lead.
During the majority of the second half, there was not much action between the two teams, as the constant goal scoring had stopped for over 30 minutes. The Roots had their opportunities early in the second half to cut into the deficit, but they just weren’t able to put it together.
The Roots sparked excitement in the 78th minute when the Pensacola keeper slid into Sanchez in the open field and midfielder Trevor Kurtz was there to clean up the mess to put the Roots on the board. Kurtz started the game as a substitute, but ended the night scoring his first goal of the season.
Just minutes later, Sanchez added on to the Roots score with a header to bring the deficit down to three goals. He joined Kurtz as the newest players to score a goal for the Roots this season.
The momentum had shifted all the way over to the home team, but Pensacola took it right back when they knocked in their sixth goal of the night right before the final whistle. The Roots comeback was too little, too late, and they suffered the 6-2 loss in their home finale.
The Florida Roots play their final match of the season on the road against the New Orleans Jesters. They’ll look to end their season on a high note against a team that is on the bubble for the NPSL playoffs.
“I just want to prove to everybody that this team has potential,” Sanchez said. “We are a very young team. Just watch out for us next year.”
Photo Credit: Paul Kearns