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LUTZ — North Tampa powerhouses Gaither and Steinbrenner collided Tuesday, and neither team gave an inch as they battled to a 1-1 draw.
The Warriors held a slight advantage in the first half, but the Cowboys (3-4-2) answered with a great effort from their back line. Cowboys defender Jared Gremley headed two balls out of the keeper’s box in the first half that likely denied Warrior goals. On the Warriors’ side, midfielder Blake Wilson made a terrific save in the first half to shut down a rally after a free kick. Gaither keeper Kyle Smith and Steinbrenner’s Christian Knight had double-digit saves.
“Regardless of the outcome, these games are gonna be good games,” Warrior coach Chad Ebright said.
Steinbrenner (5-0-1) broke through in the 32nd minute of the second half as midfielder Logan Siben worked his way deep into the right corner of the defense and played a cross right in front of the net. Forward Austin Labban knocked it in.
Freshman Nicholas Ortiz was tied up just inside the 18-yard box and pushed the ball through to Cowboys teammate Tyler Helm, who smashed in into the back of the net to tie the game at 1 in the 19th minute of the second half.
Each team played five corner kicks and combined for 16 free kicks, most in the last few minutes. Cowboys sophomore Jhonathan DaSilva hit a bicycle kick off a throw in but it sailed just over the crossbar.
As the last minute wound down, Steinbrenner senior midfielder Elliot Smith penetrated into Cowboy territory and played a cross but another Warrior couldn’t put a foot to it. Jonathan Lopez came right back for Gaither and blasted a shot from just outside the 18-yard box but it was saved.
“This game is always going to be competitive, these kids all know each other,” Cowboys coach Eric Sims said. “Our young guys grew up tonight.”