District boys soccer: Springstead back in the driver's seat

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Fri. January 27, 2012 | Derek J. LaRiviere

For the first time since 2004, Springstead will go into regionals as a district champion.

The Eagles won the Class 4A-4 title with a 4-2 victory over Lecanto on Friday night at Ocala Vanguard.

After sweeping the Panthers (14-5-2) this season, including a 4-1 win at home just two weeks ago, Springstead (18-2) had a great deal of confidence heading into the championship.

The eight-year title drought ended in large part to the scoring efforts of Michael Szafranski. With two goals, Szafranski has 11 on the season and was the most lethal offensive player for the Eagles throughout district play. He scored three times over the past two games.

Matt Campbell, the team’s leading scorer, knocked in his 26th goal of the campaign on a first-period penalty kick. With a 3-0 lead at the half, things were heavily in Springstead’s favor.

“The kids came out aggressive and confident,” Springstead coach Sal Calabrese said. “We possessed the ball well throughout and played our style.”

The other Eagles’ score came off the foot of Harrison Bennett, his third this year. One of Lecanto’s goals came on a penalty kick and the other was a keeper error as Calabrese emptied his bench.

Calabrese, in his 19th season as coach, has amassed 227 victories and only one other district title, so for him and his players, the feeling was sweet.

“Wednesday’s win got us to (Friday),” Calabrese said, “and this win gets us to home field on Tuesday. It’s gratifying to see the kids perform this way and stay focused.”

The last time the Eagles hosted a regional, they reached the region finals before losing to eventual 2004 state champion Lecanto.

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