TAMPA — Tampa Prep couldn’t have hoped for a better start to its Class 2A state semifinal against Winter Park Trinity Prep.
For the Terrapins, playing in their fourth straight state tournament, their pregame walk from their campus to University of Tampa’s Pepin Stadium has become a February ritual. And this year’s senior-laden team made that one-block walk Wednesday with one purpose: to make a valiant return home with its first state title since the seniors were wide-eyed freshmen three seasons ago.
And when junior forward Colby Maffei corralled a ball inside the penalty box from 15 yards out and rocketed a shot into the net just 34 seconds into the game, it appeared the Terps were well on the way to their second straight title match.
But that would be all the offense Tampa Prep would get, as Trinity Prep responded almost instantaneously with an equalizing goal in the fourth minute, then added another before halftime to hand the Terps a 2-1 season-ending loss.
“The game of soccer is funny, the emotion and the highs and lows,” Tampa Prep coach Cindy Schofield said. “We came out and scored so fast. There was really no rhythm and then they scored pretty close together. I felt we were on our heels a lot.
“We just weren’t as sharp as we normally are. We just seemed to be chasing instead of attacking.”
The partisan Tampa Prep crowd erupted in the game’s first minute when Maffei, an LSU commit, scored her Hillsborough County-high 42nd goal of the season.
The Saints answered quickly, however, when Sydney Carroll kicked in a center pass from Meg Casscells-Hamby just inside the far post in the fourth minute to tie.
And in the 31st minute, Trinity Prep scored the winning goal when the Harvard-bound Casscells-Hamby beat three defenders along the right side and lined a shot that one-hopped past Tampa Prep goalkeeper MacKenzie Logan.
“It’s a good thing, but also you look and you see there’s 39 minutes, 30 seconds left on the clock so they have all the time in the world to catch up,” Maffei said. “We just threw everything at them in the beginning and we were exhausted. After that one run, we were done.
“That first goal went in the back of the net and we thought we could relax and it proved that we couldn’t.”
Despite the loss, Schofield said this senior class left its mark to make the Terps a state girls soccer power.
“Some people are lucky to get to the final four in one year, and for us to get to four in four years, we know nothing else, so it’s definitely amazing,” said senior midfielder Amber Miller, who will play at Appalachian State.