District soccer: Countryside dispatches East Lake on PKs
CLEARWATER – After a seven-year drought, Countryside has finally earned a berth in the Class 4A region tournament.
It wasn't easy as the top-seeded Cougars and No. 4 East Lake faced off in their traditional war Wednesday night in the 4A-10 district semifinals. Physical, end-to-end play ruled in the battle that lasted 100 scoreless minutes.
With penalty kicks looming, Countryside coach Chris Duffy knew the key to victory: "I told our keeper we just need one save."
Sophomore Alyssa Barnes came through in the fifth round, stoning co-captain Pamela Breda with a superb diving save near the right post. Antoinette Barnes followed by catching Eagles freshman keeper Kaela Snaguski leaning, tucking the winning tally in the right side of the net.
Now at 13-1-1, the Cougars will host second seeded St. Petersburg on Friday in the district final. Both teams will advance to region play next week.
Two divergent offensive styles were in play as Countryside possessed the ball through midfield behind Tori Clark and scoring machine K.B. Weiner while East Lake (7-7-1) looked to Demitra Athanasatos and Natalee Slater to send through balls to streaking wingers.
Both styles had their moments as Athanasatos was denied in the first half on a stellar diving save from Alyssa Barnes while Weiner and Clark were thwarted by Snaguski.
Countryside's best scoring opportunity of the night came late in the first overtime when freshman Lana Truong sent Lily Conte in all alone only to have Snaguski swat away Conte's 15-yard rocket.
Seconds into the second OT, Athanasatos was stopped again, this time on a 20-yard bomb that Alyssa Barnes punched away.
Going deep into PKs, the Cougar sophomore used her knowledge to turn the tide.
"It's body language," Alyssa Barnes said. "If you watch (the shooter's) eyes, they can trick you, but it's hard to go the opposite way from which your hips are facing."
Noticing Breda was looking to Barnes' right while her hips faced left, Barnes knew which way to move.
"We worked on PKs a lot at (club team) Tampa Bay United," Alyssa Barnes said. "I try to do everything in practice that can take my game to the next level."