Boys soccer: Palm Harbor University 1, Wiregrass Ranch 0
PALM HARBOR — Both of Palm Harbor University's soccer teams maintained their perfect records Tuesday, although the boys had to work substantially harder to get it done.
While the girls got the last eight minutes off, thanks to a surprisingly lopsided 9-1 mercy-rule result over Wiregrass Ranch, the boys team had to defend like crazy for about the last 15 to hold off Wiregrass 1-0.
In fact, the visitors outplayed PHU (6-0-0) for the first half, putting on a tremendous display of possession that ended in several big-time tests for 'Canes goalie Jack Gallagher. The toughest was a rocket shot from freshman Malcolm Lewis that Gallagher parried off the crossbar in the 15th minute.
Gallagher had to make five first-half saves while PHU didn't get its first shot on goal until Daniel Wintermeier's long-range free kick in the 30th minute.
But the hosts came out with much more purpose after halftime, controlling the majority of play and getting rewarded with the lone goal in the 58th minute. After a hard foul led to a caution against Bulls standout defender Jackson Trudel, Wintermeier came up from defense and rose up to head home Hampton Lombard's 40-yard free kick.
Just before that Bulls junior midfielder JP Torres had made two great plays to help keep the game scoreless, including taking a hard-struck Bogdan Ciulei kick off his head.
Lombard almost added a second goal later on two occasions but most of the final 20 minutes belonged to Wiregrass (5-1-2). Gallagher got some critical help from center back William Cotter on a pair of dangerous Bulls chances.
Gallagher finished with nine saves. PHU has outscored its opponents 27-3, the other test being a 2-1 defeat of East Lake.
Wiregrass might have lost striker Chris Faddoul for the season — and it happened on his only play of the night. Entering in the 48th minute to take a long throw-in, Faddoul further injured a right knee what was mildly sprained and guarded with a brace.
"This is going to be my second straight lost soccer season," said Faddoul, who missed most of last year with a broken leg.
In the opener Alivia Gonzalez scored a hat trick, giving the sophomore 13 on the season, as the girls team improved to 10-0. It was 6-0 at halftime. Brittany Kane doubled her goal total by scoring twice, and senior Allyssa Woodring added one to raise her team-leading goal total to 16.