PALM HARBOR — In its recent run of postseason dominance, Palm Harbor University’s girls soccer team has played in several tight games that have gone to overtime. But the Hurricanes have never had a playoff game go to penalty kicks during John Planamenta’s nine seasons as coach.
Until Tuesday night’s Class 5A region quarterfinal against Bloomingdale that is.
PHU (18-0-3) prevailed 0-0 (6-5 on penalty kicks) thanks to the winning goal by Sara Raymond. The Hurricanes will host rival East Lake in Friday’s region semifinals.
“We were trying hard not to get into that situation,” Planamenta said. “We practice penalty kicks all the time and try to give them some kind of pressure situation. But it’s not the same once you get into that situation in a game.”
The quarterfinal was a defensive struggle that remained scoreless through regulation and two overtimes. Even one round of penalty kicks was not enough to decide it with both teams tied at 4. After each team made one in the second round, PHU goalkeeper Morgan Lorenti thwarted a shot to give her team the edge.
Lorenti had given the Hurricanes an advantage in the first round after stopping the second shot. But the officials ruled she crossed the line before the shot and disallowed the save. Bloomingdale’s Nichole Mallozzi knocked in the second attempt to keep her team alive.
“It was a nerve-racking situation, something we were definitely not used to,” Lorenti said. “After the first round, I had to ask the referees what happens in the second round. They said it’s sudden death, one and done. On that last attempt I just went with my instinct on the last stop.”
Bloomingdale (12-7-1) already had experience in this situation after beating top-seeded Plant in penalty kicks in its district tournament last week.
“We’ve been in crunch situations before,” Bulls coach Sue Peet said. “But anything can happen in penalty kicks. It can be a cruel way to end a game. But I’m proud of our team’s effort.”
After Lorenti’s stop, Raymond knocked in the winning goal.
“We’ve been in pressure situations before,” Raymond said. “But never like that. I went with my gut on that last kick. I’m just glad it went in.”