SPRING HILL — Top seeds Carrollwood Day and Bishop McLaughlin rode their top scorers out of trouble spots Friday night, and into the Class A, District 5 championship game.
CDS sophomore Miguel Ridruejo took over after 60 scoreless minutes, getting the first goal and assisting on two more as the Patriots shook off Seffner Christian 4-0. In the second semifinal Alex Stafford scored twice and added an assist, all in the first half of Bishop McLaughlin’s 3-2 victory against Cambridge Christian.
The top-seeded Patriots (15-4-1) face the host Hurricanes (15-1-2) today at 2 p.m. They split their regular-season meetings.
A tactical switch keyed Carrollwood Day’s four-goal outburst in 11 minutes. The Patriots had used a long-ball approach and though it did lead to several opportunities, a finishing touch was lacking.
Seffner Christian (11-8-1) played only one man forward, appearing content to take its chances in overtime, so at the final water break CDS coach Jim Harte switched to a 4-4-2 alignment for more natural buildup through the midfield.
It worked. Ridruejo got the ball in space, bided his time and rifled a low shot past goalkeeper Marcus Richardson in the 61st minute. It was Ridruejo’s 29th goal of the season. With that the floodgates opened: He fed standout defender John Frost for a score two minutes later, then drew a wall of defenders before dropping the ball off to Reed Ham, who made it 3-0 in the 70th minute.
“He’s a great player,” Frost said of Ridruejo. “That (first) goal was a great turning point for us. When we switched formations it really allowed us to settle down and gave us more control.”
Frost’s long free kick was headed in by Spencer Peek to cap the scoring.
SCA only had one shot in the second half and the Patriots held a 16-4 advantage for the game.
Cambridge (18-7-1) jumped on top of the hosts early when Ramiro Mendoza sent in Nathaniel Rivas. But Stafford scored twice off throw-ins in a six-minute span to put Bishop McLaughlin up 3-2 after half an hour.
That gave Stafford 36 goals for the season, and two minutes later he picked up his 21st assist with a perfect through ball to Steve Ackart.
“He’s just a step ahead of everyone else,” Bishop McLaughlin coach John Mayer said. “And you can put him anywhere on the field.”
That included defense for the last 30 minutes as the ’Canes needed the help; central defender Noah Clanahan was out with a high ankle sprain suffered this week in practice.
Christian Olvey got a goal for Cambridge but with just 30 seconds left.