PALM HARBOR — Palm Harbor University coach John Planamenta thought his young team played nervous in its 1-0 victory Thursday over Riverview in the 6A-7 semifinals. The Hurricanes outshot their opponent 10-2 in the first half, but struggled to get the ball in the back of the net.
“You create a lot of chances and the goals will come,” Planamenta said. “Time goes down and it’s still 0-0 and you get nervous.”
In the 35th minute, PHU goalkeeper Rachel Taylor boomed a goal kick that found Katie Im in stride and speeding past the Riverview defense, shooting the ball through a diving Allie Ashley for the game’s only goal.
The Hurricanes’ defense was stifling, allowing only one shot in the second half and pressuring the Rams into tough passing situations while forcing turnovers.
PHU’s Meghan Harrington sprinted toward the net in the 74th minute and received a well-placed pass from Im, but Riverview goalkeeper Allie Ashley, who had 10 saves, was there to make a remarkable stop.
“I thought we had some good chances, especially at the end of the second half that could’ve gone in,” Planamenta said. “The next step is finishing those goals and hopefully in the next game we finish them.”
Green Devils advance: A late goal by Christina Mendoza broke a tie and propelled host St. Petersburg into the district finals.
Mendoza, a sophomore, rolled her close-range chip shot just inside the left post in the 37th minute and gave the Green Devils a 3-2 victory over North Port.
St. Petersburg opened the scoring in the 15th minute of the first half when Mendoza’s rising shot found the open net, past the reach of North Port keeper Sierra Jennings.
The Green Devils had two other solid scoring chances before the Bobcats tied the game in the 28th minute with a score by Jenna Pacyna.
North Port continued its pressure in the early going of the second half with two shots on goal. But St. Petersburg regained the advantage in the 22nd minute when junior Katie Pelton arced a shot across the field and over the outstretched arms of Jennings.
Not long after, Ali Gregoire tied it up for the Bobcats when her kick streamed away from a diving Emilie Vanneste.
After Mendoza’s second and decisive goal, North Port kept the pressure on deep in the St. Petersburg end for the game’s remaining moments.
“Every time I thought we took control, they came right back,” Green Devils coach Rui Farias said.
Anthony Salveggi, Times correspondent