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TAMPA — Years from now, when members of the 2011-12 Seminole soccer team break out their medals from the Class 4A state championship, they’ll remember all the season highs. But on Saturday afternoon at USF’s Corbett Soccer Stadium, those runnerup medals didn’t look so good.
The Warhawks fought through injury and fatigue but came up a head short, losing to Orange Park Fleming Island 2-1 in double overtime.
The winning goal came with 6:46 left in the second overtime, when Austin Bartel lofted a perfectly-placed corner kick into the 6-yard box. Cameron McCurry headed the ball into the open net for the winner.
This was the second time in three years the Warhawks (19-4-2) have settled for second. Fleming Island (25-1) earned its first state soccer championship.
“It’s not nice being jilted at the alter, let me tell you,” Seminole coach Rick Masi said.
Seminole usually starts slowly and finishes with a fury. But on Saturday, the Warhawks came out firing in the first half and kept up offensive pressure almost all of the 40 minutes. The Golden Eagles were held to only one soft shot on goal in the first half.
Seminole was finally rewarded for its pressure in the 37th minute, when Shane Butler was fouled just outside the 18-yard box as he made a run to goal. Tarik Salkicic took the free kick from 20 yards out and curled it into the upper left corner to make it 1-0. It was his team-high 19th goal of the season.
That goal held up deep into the second half, despite mounting Seminole injuries. Senior scoring threat Yann Cerf (hip flexor) was replaced minutes into the second half. Sweeper Dean Favetta came out later in the half with the same problem. And forward Garrett Bocon was replaced late due to injury.
“I was running out of bodies,” Masi said.
For much of the half, it appeared Fleming Island would be denied. Eagles’ shots hit off the post or sailed just wide. With 12 minutes remaining, Seminole keeper Kenneth Matthews made a tremendous kick save on a McCurry shot to preserve the shutout.
But with just under 10 minutes left, Eagles forward Brandon Behr followed up a shot that hit off the cross bar and tapped it into the open net from only a few yards out.
“When they scored their goal we took it as if we were already losing,” Cerf said. “We haven’t given up very many goals in the second half, especially so late in the game.”
The goal will be one Masi reruns in his head for a while.
“I take the fault on that,” Masi said. “I opted for some speed instead of size back there. I pulled (defender) Dalton (Schomp). Maybe if Dalton was there he could’ve got his head on it. Who knows?”
In both overtime periods, Matthews had clutch saves. Seminole had a minor chance in the second overtime when there was a scrum for the ball in front of Fleming Island’s goal before it was cleaned up. Minutes later, the Eagles earned the corner kick that eventually decided the game.
“They played our game in the second half and we played their game,” Masi said. “Once I lost (Favetta) that changed the whole complexion of the game. We just didn’t adjust enough. We’re a possession team and in the second half we didn’t possess it well.
“All the credit to them. They outplayed us in the second half. We can’t play when the field gets stretched out, and it got stretched out.”