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PALM HARBOR — The Hurricane Watch final lived up to the hype Friday night.
Palm Harbor University and East Lake were riding win streaks entering the tournament.
Both teams had beaten Mitchell, PHU 6-0 and East Lake 4-0. Both knocked off quality opponents in the second round; PHU over Seminole (12-3-1) 1-0 and East Lake over Countryside (9-2-3) 2-0.
However, it was Palm Harbor University that finished the seven-goal shootout 4-3 as sophomore Daniel Enciso scored the last goal with six minutes remaining.
“This was huge for us,” Hurricanes coach Alex Delgado said. “We haven’t played well at this tournament in years past.”
The Hurricanes struck first when junior Brandon Kim found senior Kiril Dimov. It took the rest of the first half for the Eagles to get on the board. They finally did after a free kick by junior David Gray assisted senior Hunter Davis’ score.
“It was a good, hard-fought first half, but they came out with all of the momentum in the second half,” Delgado said.
East Lake jumped out to a 2-1 lead after an unassisted goal from junior Mathias Ghiena put it up in the first few minutes. PHU weathered the storm and tied it off a goal from sophomore Tyler Kaminski, assisted by senior Charlie Hales.
The game went into a scoring frenzy a few minutes later.
East Lake went up 3-2 on another Davis score, again assisted by Gray. However, PHU came right back and tied it when senior Robert Sennabaum scored off a penalty kick.
In the final six minutes Enciso knocked in a goal after a corner kick from about 13 yards out.
The win is a huge momentum lift as the Hurricanes head toward the district tournament Jan. 24 as the current top seed.