VALRICO — On the night the Bulls’ season ended, Bloomingdale coach Troy Smith chose to focus on the positives from the past few months rather than the 2-0 loss to Palm Harbor University in the region quarterfinals.
“You guys have had a phenomenal season,” he told his team in Tuesday’s postgame huddle as some of the Bulls had their heads buried into their shirts. “Don’t let one game tonight take away from that. Focus on all the quality wins we had this year. I’m proud of you guys.
Walk out of here with your heads held high, we’ve proven that Bloomingdale soccer is back on the map.”
The Bulls (17-3-1) were able to better their win total from the previous year and score more goals. Though on this night, the Hurricanes (15-1-4), ranked fourth in Class 5A by Maxpreps, were able to hold Bloomingdale scoreless and finally netted the game’s opening goal on a Robert Sennabaum penalty kick in the 47th minute.
“We definitely deflated,” Smith said. “We definitely took the goal as a back breaker, and we didn’t recover from it.”
Bloomingdale’s comeback attempt was hampered by the absence of 20-goal scorer Dalian Leigh, who suffered a broken ankle in the district tournament, and a limited Allan Lewis, who had missed practice time with bruised ribs and constant cramps.
It was Lewis, a freshman, though, that had the Bulls’ two best chances in the second half.
In between trying to stretch out his tightening calves and hamstrings, he found space to launch a shot into the outstretched hands of Hurricanes goalkeeper Josh Preisig in the 64th minute.
Less than 10 minutes later, Lewis again found the ball near the front of the net, but needed to turn his body around quickly to face the goal. His release sent the ball just over the crossbar.
With five minutes remaining in the game, PHU’s Kiril Dimov dribbled in between four Bloomingdale defenders and snapped off a 25-yard shot that found the back of the net to give the Hurricanes an insurance goal.
“We came to play, and in the second half we just didn’t have enough,” Smith said. “Tonight, they were a little bit better than us.”