TAMPA — Seminole senior midfielder Shane Wixted has the same approach each time he lines up a penalty kick.
Before placing the ball on the spot, Wixted calmly looks toward goal. He visualizes the ball hitting the back of the net, imagines how he’ll celebrate his success.
It’s a technique Wixted has used nearly a dozen times taking penalty kicks for Seminole.
The Warhawks’ leading scorer has yet to miss a PK this season.
Against Tallahassee Lincoln in a Class 5A state semifinal at the University of Tampa’s Pepin Stadium on Friday, Wixted’s fluid finishing skills were again on full display. His penalty kick conversion in the game’s 40th minute, 51 seconds before the halftime whistle, stood up as the only goal in Seminole’s 1-0 win.
“I knew I was going to make it to be honest,” Wixted said.
So did the entire Seminole sideline, the mental scoreboard immediately registering the Warhawks’ 1-0 lead the second forward Charles Lynch was pulled down in the box and the penalty was awarded.
Smoothly, Wixted sent a low drive to the right corner. Lincoln goalkeeper J.C. Tacot guessed correctly, diving to his left, but Wixted’s shot was perfectly placed.
“I think that goal was huge for them going into halftime,” Lincoln coach Santiago Molina said.
Seminole (18-8-2) came out of the halftime break playing possession soccer. The Warhawks methodically passed the ball around, keeping it away from the Trojans’ biggest threats, juniors Jarrod Ingram and Carlos Gaston.
Lynch almost clinched the win for Seminole in the 57th minute after dribbling around two defenders then sliding a shot past Tacot that slowly rolled toward the goal before Lincoln’s Zachary Tower cleared it off the line.
Ingram had the best scoring opportunity for Lincoln (22-4-2) when he unleashed a shot from the right side of the box with a defender on his hip that keeper Ryan Downey pushed past the goal mouth with his fingertips.
“That was a huge save,” Masi said.
The Warhawks will make their fourth state final appearance when they face Melbourne, a 4-2 winner over Auburndale in Friday’s first semifinal, at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Pepin Stadium in a rematch of last week’s 5A girls final. Seminole is searching for its third state title.
“We did well against a quality team. (Lincoln) only lost three times all year (coming in),” Masi said. “Our little ragged boys from Seminole, let’s see if we have a little gas left in the tank.”
Photo: Seminole's Charles Lynch goes airborne in an effort to keep the ball in bounds. EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times