ST. PETERSBURG — Pinellas Park kept attacking and Largo goalkeeper Fontana Cugino kept making one spectacular save after another.
But the Patriots finally broke through Thursday with a little more than 20 minutes left and on their 14th shot on goal, when Kassidee Davis gathered the ball in traffic near the goalmouth, faked Cugino with a step-over move and found a wide-open Brittany Kinard, who calmly placed the ball into the back of the net.
The junior midfielder’s first score of the year would hold up as Pinellas Park beat Largo 1-0 to advance to the Class 5A-12 final, where it will face Northeast on Friday. The host Vikings earlier won easily over Boca Ciega in a 5-0 rout in which five players scored.
“We changed things up a bit for this game and moved Kaleigh (Davis) up and put Kassidee back to open things up for us more,” Pinellas Park coach Patrick Doheny said. “Other teams usually put an emphasis on marking Kassidee, so having her back allowed the other girls to create more opportunities.”
With players on the Pinellas Park boys team behind the bench in support, the Patriots (7-6-1) forced the issue from the start and Davis was instrumental in winning a large percentage of the 50-50 balls at midfield. Pinellas Park held a 17-7 shot advantage.
“It (moving Davis back) made the defense more aggressive and we were able to push the ball up to the forwards,” Davis said. “We were relieved we finally got a goal because (Cugino) played an amazing game.”
Cugino finished with 13 saves. Pinellas Park keeper Kayla Steacy had four saves.