ST. PETERSBURG — Tampa Prep had little go right in the first 75 minutes of its rivalry game against Shorecrest on Tuesday night. The Chargers, on the other hand, were making defensive stops and clinging to a one-goal lead.
But in the final five minutes, the momentum changed. The Terrapins scored twice to stun Shorecrest 3-2. It was the first loss of the season for the Chargers (11-1).
“I told the guys that I guarantee Tampa Prep isn’t going to stop until the last minute, and they didn’t,” Shorecrest coach Jeff Diedrich said. “They scored two goals in the final five minutes. It’s the same score as it usually is against these guys. It’s disappointing.”
It looked as if Shorecrest might keep its perfect season after Tampa Prep (11-5) kept missing late scoring opportunities. But with 4:20 remaining, the Terrapins’ fortunes changed. Gregg Suglia slotted a perfect through ball to Jordan Hayes about 30 yards from the goal. Hayes had only the goalkeeper between himself and the goal, and he buried the shot to tie the match.
Then in extra time, with both teams pushing offensively, Hayes launched a shot from 25 yards that bounded off the top of the goal and back into play. Ralph Grauer was there to tap in the rebound to give Tampa Prep a 3-2 lead.
“It was extremely frustrating for much of the game,” Hayes said. “Coach (Doug Smith) told us that if we were going to win it, it was going to come down to heart. In the final 10 minutes, we got a lucky break and tied it up.
“From there, we were going big or going home.”
It looked for much of the game like Tampa Prep was going to have a long bus ride home. After Michael Spezza scored Tampa Prep’s first goal, Shorecrest scored the next two to take a 2-1 halftime lead.
The Chargers’ first score came on an own goal when Tampa Prep defender Oscar Skjaerpe tried to clear a header, but it sailed into the goal. Shorecrest scored a more conventional goal in the 36th minute when Sam Cressman broke free from 30 yards out, dribbled toward the goal and slipped a right-footer into the net.
Cressman had a good chance in extra time of the second half to tie, but his shot from 20 yards went wide left.
Smith said it may not have been his team’s best win of the season, but a win is a win.
“I told them at halftime that sometimes you have bad luck, but you’re going to have to find a way to win this game,” Smith said. “They did. It wasn’t our prettiest game, but they did what they had to do.”