Lemon Bay breaks records: Lady Mantas have proud island parents

February 28, 2020
By Marcy Shortuse

BY OLIVIA CAMERON – The Lemon Bay girls’ soccer team has officially made history, reveling in their first Regional Championship ever.
The Lady Mantas victory through their first District match win of 15 years and their success in Regionals put them on the path to the State Final Four playoffs in Jacksonville. The Mantas made their mark in history as part of the last four standing.
Lady Mantas coach of seven years, Katie Cook, is proud to have led her team this far. “It was surreal. Districts was a long time in the making,” said Cook. Some of the team faced injuries and even the flu just a week before their competition. “The girls were great in supporting each other and taking on roles they were not used to.”
After they overcame a 15-year defeat streak, the team knew there were almost no limits to what they might achieve. “When we started the season, Districts was our main goal. After that, we just wanted to see how far we could go with it,” Cook said.
And with that, the Mantas became Regional Champions, defeating Wesley Chapel by a 2-1 score.
“It was nice to have community support. Our school and community were behind us the whole time,” said Cook. She believes the support of the high school and the local families helped them achieve such remarkable wins.
A number of these girls are also recognizable by the Island. These family roots are the gears of the merry-go-round that is this little paradise town. The parents’ dedication to their daughters’ futures keeps the team in- tact.
Lady Manta Heather Knight’s parents have double duty on the Island. Her mother is a speech therapist and gives her time to The Island School, while her father, Captain Eric Knight, manages the Boca Grande Marina.
Both of Kylie Robbins’ parents also keep the town turning. Robbins is a proud teammate and hopes to set more records. “We never thought we’d make it to the State Semifinals. We just took it one game at a time,” said Robbins. “I am so glad to be a Lady Manta with some great players and coaches this season, and I am looking forward to the next season.”
Lauren Ragazzone is another Manta whose grandmother, Deborah Hahn, has been a nurse at the Boca Grande Health Clinic for more than 30 years. Dedication runs in the family.
“I am incredibly proud of the girls who worked through the season, and it makes me proud to be their coach,” said Cook. She led the team to victory alongside Assistant Coach and husband Jason Cook.
Despite their Final Four loss in Jacksonville, the team was still gratified with how far they’ve come. Cook referred to the next season in good spirits. “If we can handle this, then we can handle anything.”