ST. PETERSBURG — East Lake forward Josh Page spent the past two weeks sidelined with a groin injury. He made a big impact in his return to the field Friday night in the PCAC final against Northeast.
Page had three goals to help the Eagles defeat the Vikings 4-0 for their second straight PCAC championship. East Lake (15-2) overcame the memory of last week’s loss to Palm Harbor University in the Hurricane Watch final and gained momentum heading into next week’s district tournament.
“We’ve struggled a little bit without (Page),” East Lake coach Alex Stenson said. “We’ve tried to play him but it hasn’t worked out. Hopefully now the timing is just right and we keep playing like this.”
The game was played evenly through the first 25 minutes, with both teams trading shots on goal. But with 15 minutes left in the first half, East Lake’s Bruno Scafidi crossed a ball just in front of the goal mouth. Northeast goalkeeper Mike Winsor lunged for the ball, but Page got there just in front of him to tap in the first goal.
The second goal came with four minutes to play in the half. Max Guy sent in a perfectly placed corner kick. Page headed it in from point blank range to make it 2-0.
Northeast (11-5-2) had a golden chance to close the gap with 21 minutes left in the second half. Stevie Rudderham broke free in the 18-yard box, but his shot from 15 yards curved wide.
Page then put it out of reach five minutes later when he blasted a shot from 25 yards into the upper left corner. After that goal, he was taken out of the game.
“It was kind of stressful (not playing),” Page said. “It feels so good to be back. I didn’t think I’d score three goals like that but I’ll take it.”
East Lake’s final goal was due to some bad luck by Northeast. Rudderham tried to cross the ball near midfield when his kick hit the center referee. The ball caromed to Scafidi, who had a clear run to the goal. He buried the shot to make it 4-0.