PALM HARBOR — Two neighborhood rivals will square off Friday in the final of the Palm Harbor University Hurricane Watch soccer tournament.
East Lake used its typical stifling defense to beat Seminole 3-0 Wednesday. The win comes a day after defeating Northeast 2-0 in the opening round. Palm Harbor University got a goal just seconds into its game against Countryside and made it stand up in a 1-0 win.
The Hurricanes will play the Eagles at 6:30 p.m. Friday for the championship.
In Wednesday’s opening game, East Lake was down a few starters but found enough offense against Seminole. East Lake’s top scorer, Josh Page, is out with a pulled groin. Bruno Scafidi, Alex Ramirez and Alejandro Gonzalez were also out with injuries.
After starting slowly, the Eagles (14-1) scored with 15 minutes to go in the first half on Miguel Silva’s free kick from 35 yards out. His left-footed shot curled over goalkeeper Tom Palmer and landed in the upper right corner of the net.
“I saw the keeper pointing to defenders, so I think he thought I was going to cross it in,” Silva said. “I tried to make it look like a cross and then put a bend on it at the end. I’ve been practicing that shot.”
In the second half, Seminole had two shots sail just over the crossbar in the first 10 minutes.
But things fell apart with 18 minutes to go. That’s when Jonathan Martins was red-carded for talking back to the referee, which forced Seminole to play a man down the rest of the way. Five minutes later, Max Guy scored on a header, and with 10 minutes left, Hank Klein scored on another header.
Seminole (11-7-1) also started the game shorthanded. Top scorer Shane Butler was out because of the flu.
“I like the effort our team gave,” Seminole coach Rick Masi said. “We had some chances, and then we got the red card and it kind of came apart.”
In the second game, it took host PHU 14 seconds to score its goal, and that’s all the Hurricanes needed. Matt Corbett broke free on the left side and had an uncontested shot from 10 yards out.
Countryside goalkeeper Zachary Suhoza had no chance on the shot, which skidded by him and into the right side of the goal.
“(Midfielder) Joe Kampmann hustled to pressure the ball and then passed it to Matt, who was wide open,” PHU coach Wipoj Huse said. “I didn’t think that would be the final score. Countryside played very well.”
PHU threatened several times in the second half but could not score against Suhoza.
“We’ve just had a hard time scoring in some games this season,” Countryside coach Sean Nolan said.