SEMINOLE — The shots came from close range, from the corners, from 25 feet. Seminole fired at will in Friday’s Class 4A, District 10 championship game.
But unlike Thursday’s semifinal, in which the Warhawks scored five first-half goals, the shots went everywhere Friday but inside the net.
Unable to take advantage of its opportunities, Seminole struggled to put away a pesky Tarpon Springs team in the final. It wasn’t until Leah Rapuano scored with three minutes remaining that the Warhawks were able to beat the Spongers 2-1.
“We controlled the game throughout, and probably outshot them 3-1,” Seminole coach Gary Kolb said. “We just couldn’t finish our shots. But I told the girls that good teams rise up in tough situations, and that’s what we did.”
In the first half the Warhawks took the lead when Olivia Red scored in the 28th minute. It was her 29th goal this season, a school record for a freshman.
The second half was more of the same as Seminole kept misfiring. The Spongers took advantage of their one opportunity as Ali Ward connected on a penalty kick to tie.
The game was similar to the regular-season meeting, which Seminole won 3-2 to clinch the No. 1 seed in the district.
“It was close; of course they always seem to be whenever we play Seminole,” Tarpon Springs coach John Freiermuth said. “It was rough out there, too. But the referees let the girls play, which was good.
“We were outshot by a ton in this game, but the girls just stayed in there, kept it tight, and we gave ourselves a chance at the end.”
Rapuano let the Warhawks exhale with her winning kick. It was her third goal of the district tournament.
“It was frustrating because we should have won by a lot more,” Kolb said. “We have to get better and stay focused when we have those scoring opportunities. And we have to finish them. But the biggest thing is we won and we’re hosting a regional game, which was our goal.”
5A-8: East Lake rides early momentum past PHU
PALM HARBOR — East Lake’s charter bus rocked back and forth in the parking lot with players singing and dancing in the aisles. And this was before the Eagles’ Class 5A, District 8 final against Palm Harbor University.
That enthusiasm spilled onto the field Friday, as East Lake scored two first-half goals and shut out the Hurricanes 2-0 to earn the district championship. East Lake will host the 5A-7 runnerup Wednesday night. PHU, which suffered its first loss of the season, will play at the 5A-7 winner Wednesday. The 5A-7 final is tonight.
“I thought we had momentum coming off the bus,” East Lake coach Sergei Stopek said. “These girls were jacked up all day long. I’m on the field before the game and I could hear the girls on the bus just going crazy, singing and dancing. I just had a good feeling. They all really believed they could do this.”
East Lake had to overcome a flurry of early chances by Palm Harbor University. The Hurricanes (17-1) hung around the East Lake net in the first 20 minutes. The best chance came in the 17th minute, when Kathryn Huapaya crossed to Skye Barba 10 yards in front of goal. Barba’s shot sailed over the crossbar.
But in the final 20 minutes of the first half, East Lake took over. In the 33rd minute, Emily Cady worked free on the right side and crossed to Madison Del Duca on the left side of the 18-yard box. Del Duca got off a left-footer that beat keeper Morgan Lorenti and rolled into the lower-right corner for a 1-0 lead.
“Getting that first goal was huge,” Del Duca said. “The whole team just lit up.”
The Eagles (17-3) did not let up. With less than two minutes in the half, Maggie Amos led Elisha Holmes with a pass in the middle of the field. Holmes sprinted to the ball, made a few dribbles and tapped it into the left corner from inside 10 yards.
“That second goal sealed the deal for us,” Del Duca said. “And it could have easily been three or four goals. But their goalie made some good saves. I’m happy we were able to put two away.”
The Hurricanes’ best chance came with 29 minutes left when Barba cranked a shot from 20 yards that hit off the crossbar.
Osceola 1, Palmetto 0 (2OT): Locked in a scoreless game through regulation and one overtime period, the Warriors broke through in the second overtime when Rebecca Dirks scored the winning goal.
This is the second straight Class 3A, District 10 title for the Warriors. In the regular season, Osceola and Palmetto played to a scoreless tie.
“We always seem to play Palmetto close,” Osceola coach Anatol Popovich said. “It was a struggle through regulation and overtime, but the girls just continued to fight and find a way to score at the end. It was a huge win for us.”
St. Petersburg Catholic 1, Clearwater Central Catholic 0: The Barons continued their dominance over their Class 2A, District 9 foe, beating the host Marauders for the second time this season. Meggie Dougherty-Howard scored the winning goal for top-seeded SPC in the first half. The Barons are undefeated against district opponents.
Shorecrest 4, St. Stephen’s 0: The Chargers scored four goals for the second straight game in the Class A, District 8 tournament. Skyler Ellenburg led Shorecrest with two goals. Teammates Demi Tellios and Jade Caldwell each scored once. It was quite a turnaround for the Chargers, who played to a scoreless tie against St. Stephen’s in the regular season.
“I was pleased with the way were able to get our offense going,” Shorecrest coach Neal Wolfrath said. “We were able to go up 2-0 at the half, and continued to push and find scoring opportunities in the second half.”
Tampa Prep 3, Indian Rocks Christian 1: The top-seeded Terrapins nearly recorded their second shutout of the Golden Eagles this season to win the Class A, District 7 tournament. Tampa Prep has allowed just two goals in its past six games and breezed through the district tournament, outscoring its two opponents 7-1.
Staff writer Rodney Page contributed to this report.