Clearwater and Seminole's final Class 4A, District 10 regular-season game featured an early goal, a late goal and plenty of action in between. But when the final whistled sounded, the 1-1 tie cleared things up for the district tournament.
The visiting Warhawks (9-6-1, 2-2-1) clinched third place behind defending state champ Palmetto and Northeast. The Tornadoes (10-4-3, 1-1-3) are fourth.
"A tie is okay, but I wanted the win," Seminole coach Rick Masi said. "We had our chances there at the end."
Seminole didn't waste any time scoring. In the fifth minute, it earned a corner kick. Shane Butler launched a kick from the left side that curled toward the goal. Liam Murphy leapt over defenders and redirected a header from 10 yards that found the corner of the goal.
"We practice that all the time," Masi said. "Butler to Murphy is a great combination. We've probably scored six goals that way this year."
From there, Seminole's scoring chances went cold. Clearwater's best chance came in the 25th minute, when a shot by Nicholas Xenakis from 20 yards bounced off the crossbar.
Trailing 1-0 at halftime, Clearwater stepped up its offensive pressure. With 33 minutes left, Donovan Price's free kick from 25 yards sailed just over the crossbar. Two minutes later, Price was a split-second slow in beating Seminole keeper Tom Palmer to a loose ball.
But with 16 minutes left, Akeem Wynter broke through. Hanging out just behind the 18-yard box, Wynter collected a loose ball, dribbled once to his left and rocketed a left-footer that slipped inside the crossbar and past a diving Palmer to make it 1-1.
"I thought my teammates had it at first," Wynter said. "It slipped out to me eventually, and I saw the open space and shot it. I have confidence that I can make that shot, and I just told myself to go for it."
The final minutes were dominated by Seminole. But the Warhawks couldn't get the winning goal. Butler had two near misses as did Liam Rafferty.
"That's a strong, hard, physical team," Masi said. "We're not really that kind of team. And we're a little beat up right now. We really need that (holiday) break."