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Boys soccer: Shorecrest recaptures missing district title

By Chuck Frye, Times correspondent
Published: February 3, 2018 Updated: February 3, 2018 at 10:58 PM

LARGO ó After a disappointing early exit from the Class A, District 6 tournament last season, Shorecrest Prepís mission Saturday night was twofold ó to climb its way back to the summit while defeating the team that took its place, St. Petersburg Catholic.

Done and done, as the Chargers humbled the defending champs, 2-0, at Indian Rocks Christian.

"Last year, we didnít get as far as we liked," Shorecrest junior midfielder Logan Stenger said of a squad that had won the prior three district titles. "It was nice this year to be able to fulfill that."

Stenger was one of many cogs of an effective effort that regularly picked off Baron passes and routinely won 50/50 balls. But even after a scoreless opening 20 minutes where the Chargers (14-1-2) held a 9-1 shot advantage, Shorecrest coach Jason Montoya was dissatisfied.

"To be honest, at the first water break, I thought we were too lax. I didnít think we were intense enough for a championship game. That has to improve," Montoya said.

The Chargers did thanks to juniors Cole Savitsky and Brendan Smith smartly moving the ball down the right wing, as well as senior Drew Zolper and freshman Ronan Dillow helping to lock down the midfield.

"That is a game-changer," Stenger said of Shorecrestís interior dominance. "Once we control the midfield, we can bring it out wide or play it straight down the middle and attack. Owning the middle is pretty key."

Stenger finally cracked through with seconds remaining in the first half. After the Chargers funneled the ball through midfield, Stenger broke free on the left side near the top of the box. He cut to the center and snapped off a laser tight into the top right corner of the net.

Keeping the heat on through an oppressive second half, Stenger set up Zolper near the same spot he scored from in the 49th minute. With his back to the goal, Zolper turned inside and one-timed a seeing-eye sizzler that scooted past the lower right post.

When the final whistle sounded, Shorecrest had sent in 18 shots, eight of which ended up on frame. St. Petersburg Catholic mustered just three, none on net.

"It definitely feels good (to control a game such as Saturdayís), but we still canít be cocky," Stenger said. "We still have to play the game the way we have the whole time."

With Foundation Christian Academy of Valrico looming Wednesday in the opening regional game, Montoya expects even more from his side.

"Itís nice to win a district title but, in my opinion, it wasnít our best performance."

The Barons (12-6-2) will start regional play at Carrollwood Day School on Wednesday.