TAMPA — For roughly the first five minutes of Thursday afternoon’s Class 2A boys soccer semifinal, Tampa Prep appeared tense and timid, as if its collective back was to the wall.
Over the next 35, the Terrapins were fleet and furious, dashing with their backs to the wind.
Before a throng of Tampa Prep students who made the two-minute walk across Cass Street to Pepin Stadium, the Terrapins collected three goals in a 25-minute first-half span en route to a 3-1 triumph over Tallahassee Maclay.
Tampa Prep (18-4-2) seeks its fourth state title in six years Friday at 7:30 against defending state champ Delray Beach American Heritage. Terps second-year coach Doug Smith suggested his team can ill afford to wait until 7:35 before arriving.
“Everybody had a case of the nerves early on (Thursday),” Smith said, “and once we settled things got a lot more organized going forward.”
Amid a brisk wind, the Marauders asserted themselves early on, steadily working the ball toward the Terrapins penalty area without managing a clean shot on goal. Then, Tampa Prep got untracked.
George Mason signee Wes Sever began finding clearance down the left side, getting one point-blank shot deflected and having another sail just wide. The Terps finally found the mark when junior Jake Peterson took an Anthony Baumann feed and scored from 6 yards.
Twelve minutes later, in the 25th minute, Sever scored his team-best 32nd goal on a breakaway set up by Brad Goldsberry’s goal kick.
“That was a momentum killer, there’s no doubt about that,” Marauders coach Andrew Warner said.
“We lost track of (Sever) and we’ve done our homework on that. There was a period in there where we completely lost track of where he was and we lost our shape there. And to be fair they made us pay.”
Baumann then exacted a toll of his own from the Marauders in the first half’s waning moments. On a diagonal run to the right, Baumann took a Peterson feed on a perfect hop and lofted a 12-yard shot over advancing keeper Taylor Miller for the third goal.
Tampa Prep managed only two more shots on goal the rest of the way.
“To be completely honest I think (the third goal) hurt us,” Baumann said. “In the second half we came out thinking we had won the game already, which is not bad but we needed to get one more and then we could relax. But we relaxed one goal too early.”
Maclay, which finished with more yellow cards (three) than shots on goal (one), averted a shutout on 5-foot-6 eighth-grader Alex Artecona’s goal in the 67th minute.
“The first half I thought we played very well,” Smith said. “The second half, for whatever reason, I think things just kind of fell apart. But overall we did what we needed to do and we’re looking forward to (Friday).”
Photo: Maclay's Adam McCabe (4) tries to take the ball away from Tampa Prep's Wes Sever (7) in the first half. WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times