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TAMPA — An exploded sprinkler head ruined the Steinbrenner boys’ chance to play on their home field for senior night as Wednesday’s game was moved to Wharton. It mattered little to the Warriors, who exploded offensively on the Wildcats 7-1.
It took less than 10 seconds for the Warriors to get on the board. They played the opening kick to Logan Siben, who played a cross into the keeper’s box and Derek Gebhard turned on it and buried it in the net.
“(The opening goal) really showed we were ready to play coming into this game,” Gebhard said.
The fireworks went off without relent in the early going. Two minutes after the first goal, the Warriors struck again as Jason Collister cleaned up a deflection to go ahead 2-0. One minute later, Wharton’s Evans Blanc got possession in the corner of the 18-yard box and drilled a shot far post for Wharton’s lone goal.
The Warriors struck again in the 18th minute of the first half as Enrique Barboto blasted one in from outside the 18-yard box. Elliot Smith, just three minutes later, slipped a pass through multiple defenders to Austin Labban, who kicked in Steinbrenner’s fourth goal. Labban cleaned up another goal that ricocheted off Wharton keeper Keenan Kushner to make it a 5-1 halftime lead.
The pace slowed a little in the second half but Steinbrenner was far from done scoring. The Warriors added a sixth goal off a penalty kick, knocked in by Kyle Lester. Then Siben, the team leader in assists, played another one to Barboto. The Warriors dominated, taking 18 shots on goal to Wharton’s three and keeping the ball on Wharton’s end most of the match.
“This game definitely gives us confidence going forward,” Barboto said. “We looked like a different team out there tonight.”
The bright spot for the Wildcats was gritty play from Kushner, who made 12 saves including a blocked penalty kick.