EAST LAKE — With 22 minutes left in East Lake’s Class 5A, District 8 semifinal against Sarasota Riverview, Eagles coach Sergei Stopek could finally breathe a sigh of relief. That’s when his team took a three-goal lead and he could start thinking about the district final.
East Lake broke it open against the Rams with five second-half goals to win 6-0. The Eagles (16-3) play at Palm Harbor University, which defeated Countryside 1-0, tonight at 7 for the district title.
“You never feel safe with a two-goal lead,” Stopek said.
East Lake dominated most of the game. The Eagles launched shot after shot at Rams goalkeeper Stephanie Tapar before breaking through in the 12th minute. That’s when Indie St. George knocked in a right-footer from 10 yards out.
That 1-0 score didn’t stand long after halftime. Just a few minutes into the second half, Madison Del Duca weaved her way through defenders from 40 yards out and scored from within 10 yards.
Karina White scored the third goal on an assist from Megan Kelly. Minutes later, Emily Cady cleaned up a loose ball from about 5 yards out. The fifth goal came on a blast from Maggie Amos. And finally with 12 minutes left, Elisha Holmes scored on a perfectly-placed cross by Cady.
“It all seemed to come together,” Stopek said. “We had sharp passes, played good defense and finished our shots. We probably should have scored more than we did. So I like the way we’re playing at this time of the year.”
Palm Harbor University (17-0) got a goal from freshman Kathryn Huapaya with 15 minutes remaining in the second half to advance.
PHU outshot Countryside 32-2.
“They played a very defensive game,” PHU coach John Planamenta said. “I told the girls not to worry about the score. We played a very good defensive team and did what we had to do. It should be a great final against East Lake.”
4A-10: Seminole's scoring surge earns rematch with Tarpon
SEMINOLE — Two years ago, Gary Kolb guided St. Petersburg Catholic through an exhilarating run to the state championship game.
Kolb sees a lot of similarities between that team and Seminole, the one he now coaches.
“We’re just on a roll right now,” Kolb said. “We’re getting hot at the right time, just like we did at St. Petersburg Catholic. The light has come on for all the girls.”
On Thursday, the Warhawks stretched their win streak to six with a 6-0 victory over Northeast in the Class 4A, District 10 semifinals.
Seminole (19-5-1) will host Tarpon Springs at 7 in tonight’s championship game. The Spongers advanced with a 2-1 victory over Largo in double overtime.
During the Warhawks’ recent run, they knocked off East Lake and survived a 3-2 victory over Tarpon Springs in the regular season that clinched the No. 1 seed.
“We’re playing about as well as we have all season,” Kolb said.
Still, there was some doubt as to whether the Warhawks could continue to cruise in the district semifinals.
Last month, Seminole and Northeast played to a tie, a game in which the Warhawks had 32 shots on goal but scored just once.
The shots kept coming Thursday. This time, the Warhawks made them count. Olivia Red scored within the first three minutes. Teammates Jordyn Turner and Leah Rapuano quickly added goals.
With 30 minutes remaining in the first half, the score was already 3-0.
The scoring binge wasn’t over. Angela Chicchia had a goal and Rapuano connected on her second of the night to give Seminole a 5-0 halftime lead.
Alex Glunt had the only goal of the second half to round out the scoring.
“The biggest thing was our passing,” Kolb said. “I thought that was the best we’ve passed the ball all year. And we really made them pay by hitting shots when we had our chances.”
In the first semifinal, Sarah Brown scored in the second overtime to help the Spongers get past the Packers. It was redemption for Brown, who missed a wide-open shot earlier in overtime.
“I just knew I needed another chance,” Brown said. “This team is a great family, and I wanted to do whatever I can to help us win and move on to the playoffs.”
With a roster that has just two seniors, Tarpon Springs (11-3) was expecting to make a run next season.
“We really were kind of putting all our eggs in the basket for the next couple of years,” Spongers coach John Freiermuth said. “But the young girls have really come through this year. And we’ve played a lot of really close games against some tough teams.”
This is the second straight season Tarpon Springs is meeting Seminole in the district final. In the regular season, the Spongers had a chance to tie but missed on a wide-open penalty kick.
“It’s usually a pretty good game whenever we play Seminole,” Freiermuth said. “I expect this one to be the same.”
Shorecrest 4, Sarasota Out-of-Door 2: The Chargers wasted little time taking control, building a 3-0 lead by halftime and going ahead 4-0 early in the second half. Demi Tellios, Sophie Wiltshire, Sarah Zolper and Kai Greenlees each scored. Tonight, the Chargers (16-3-2) face Bradenton St. Stephen’s in the Class A, District 8 championship at Out-of-Door.
Indian Rocks Christian 4, Calvary Christian 3: Trailing 2-0 early in the first half, the Golden Eagles stormed back behind freshman Olivia Ross-Johnson, who scored all four goals. The Warriors took control at the start of the game with Kerstin Mayes scoring twice. Katie Roeder also had a goal. With less than two minutes remaining, Calvary’s Haley Carpenter appeared to hit a tying shot but it was waved off because of a penalty.
IRC will play Tampa Prep in tonight’s Class A, District 7 final. The Terrapins beat Carrollwood Day 4-0 in the other semifinal.
Osceola 6, Dunedin 0: In a game that served as a tuneup for what could be a deep playoff run, the host Warriors dismantled the Falcons to advance to the Class 3A, District 10 title game for the second straight season.
Osceola, the No. 2 seed, will host top-seeded Palmetto in tonight’s championship game at 7, according to coach Anatol Popovich. Kaley Eisenbrai led the offense with three goals. Sabrina Zanicchi, Rebecca Dirks and Angela Kincy also scored for Osceola (15-1-1). The Warriors tied Palmetto during the regular season but the Tigers were awarded the top seed in a tiebreaker.
Staff writer Bob Putnam contributed to this report.