TARPON SPRINGS — In typical fashion, East Lake came out with lots of pressure, lots of speed and ended up scoring lots goals.
There was a penalty kick by Megan Kelly. A pretty little chip shot by Emily Cady. A dazzling run and score by Madison Del Duca. And a rebound goal from Brooke Cicero.
There was not, however, a lot of drama.
Not yet, anyway.
With 10 minutes remaining, however, Vero Beach’s Alana Hockenhull made a long run and scored. Then a penalty kick with six minutes remaining pulled the Indians within a goal.
“I think we got a little too comfortable,” said coach Sergei Stopek.
But with a chance to host a Class 5A state semifinal and keep a dream season going, the Eagles proved they were resilient. They staved off two good scoring opportunities down the stretch and held on for a 4-3 win Tuesday night.
The victory means the Eagles (23-4) will play in the state semifinals for the first time since 2008, but the first time at home when they host Oviedo.
“That’s crazy,” said Del Duca, who will sign with Tennessee next week. “Last year at this time we went away and we lost in PKs. Now we get to host a semifinal. It’s awesome.”
It was Del Duca’s goal, her 32nd this season, just barely a minute into the second half that seemed to clinch victory. Taking the ball in the middle of the field, she managed to play the ball like it was a yo-yo tied to her toes, perplexing three defenders and capping her zig-zag run with a goal that made it 3-0.
After Vero Beach scored its first goal 10 minutes later, East Lake answered with Cicero’s goal, and for the following 10 minutes the Eagles continued to threaten, missing on two great opportunities as Del Duca and freshman Elisha Holmes used their speed to create openings.
But what could have been a bigger lead shrunk to one that was minuscule as the desperate and previously undefeated Indians (21-1) made a charge.
3A: Warriors' PK play saves season
FORT MYERS — Osceola senior Angelina Kincy stepped into the box knowing her shot would extend her Osceola career or possibly end it.
The kick sailed under Riverdale goalkeeper Cydney Niedermeyer giving the Warriors a 1-1 (4-3 on PKs) win over Riverdale in the 3A region final.
“I just knew I had to do it for my team, myself, parents and our coach,” Kincy said. “It wasn’t going to be my last game as a senior or the last game for the rest of my teammates.”
For the first 10 minutes Osceola didn’t look like a team that scored 13 goals in its first two playoff games.
The Warriors struck first in the 17th minute when Taylor Schofield’s pass out of the corner was kicked in by sophomore Cassidy Reich.
“I was thinking I have to go through the ball,” Reich said. “Go to it, finish it and put it right in the net.”
Riverdale’s Kaylee Martin scored the equalizer with 17 minutes left in the game after Osceola couldn’t clear Taylor Van Vliet’s corner kick into the box.
The score would remain tied to end regulation and the two overtimes saw the score unchanged.
The win makes it Osceola’s second year in a row making it to the Class 3A state semifinals.
“I think it’s great for the program because we haven’t been to states in a long time,” coach Anatol Popovich. “It’s great for the girls and the way they’ve been performing.”
Osceola (20-1-1) lost starting goalie Kristina Kulavic at the 10-minute mark after Riverdale’s Cydney Niedermeyer’s shot hit the bottom right post. Kulavic went out with what appeared to be an ankle injury and sophomore Jessica Brown gave up one goal in 70 minutes of play.
2A: Barons' offense comes up empty
Through the district tournament and the first two rounds of the playoffs, St. Petersburg Catholic had no trouble putting the ball through the net. The Barons scored a combined 13 goals in their past four games as they waltzed into Tuesday’s Class 2A region final.
But scoring proved difficult against North Palm Beach Benjamin. SPC struggled to find any rhythm and lost 1-0 on a goal in the final two minutes.
“It was just a case of being too little, too late,” Barons coach Randy Villalba said. “We played tremendous in the second half. I just wish we were able to put two halves together.”
In the first half, SPC (17-4) was sluggish, but the Barons woke up in the second half. One lapse, though, proved costly as they gave up a goal on a kick from the right corner that sailed past the reach of the keeper.
SPC had two chances to tie, but one shot went wide and a corner kick was not converted.
A: Shorecrest's best not quite good enough
ST. PETERSBURG — Sometimes even a properly executed game plan isn’t enough.
Shorecrest held Lakeland Christian, a team averaging six goals per game, to just one in Tuesday night’s Class A region final. But that one goal was enough for the Vikings to advance to the state semifinals and end Shorecrest’s season.
Lakeland Christian scored with 27 minutes left on a free kick from just outside the 18-yard box and held on 1-0.
“Before the game we told them to do everything you can to put us in position to win the game,” Shorecrest coach Neal Wolfrath said. “When it’s super close like this, all you can tell them is that they did everything we asked. We played nearly flawlessly on defense.”
Both teams had chances throughout, but the biggest came when Sydney Rayborn was fouled just outside the penalty box and directly in front of the goal. Lakeland Christian freshman Bri Folds was selected to take the free kick. She lined a shot that curled past Shorecrest’s four-player wall set up 10 yards away and into the lower-right corner.
The Vikings kept up the pressure for much of the second half and allowed only one real scoring chance by the Chargers (17-3-3). With 15 minutes left, Sophie Wiltshire crossed a ball from the right side about 10 yards in front of the goal. Kai Greenlees tried to get there in time but was unable to redirect the ball.
Shorecrest controlled most of the action in the first half but had nothing to show for it. The best chance came with eight minutes left when Wiltshire won a battle in the right corner and managed to get off a sliding left-footer that sailed just over the crossbar from about 15 yards.
In the final seven minutes, Jade Caswell, Sarah Zolper and Skyler Ellenburg got shots on goal but all were saved.
“We knew it was going to take more than one goal to win,” Wolfrath said. “The way they score it might’ve even taken more than two goals to win. Some of those shots in the last 10 or 15 minutes, it was frustrating not to have one go in.”
Staff writers Rodney Page and Bob Putnam, and correspondent Tariq Lee contributed this report.