Girls soccer: Osceola stays undefeated

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Wed. December 5, 2012 | Bob Putnam | Email

SEMINOLE — The game had been over for just a few moments, and the players were leaving the field in golf carts when the murmuring finally reached full pitch.

For weeks, Osceola’s girls soccer team had existed in a blissful bubble, insulated by a district devoid of most of the county’s super powers and away from the ceaseless questions, ballooning expectations and the mounting fatigue of a chase for a state title.

The Warriors have been dominant but not domineering, oddly under the radar for a team that advanced to the state semifinals last season and on the verge of something even greater.

But after Osceola’s 4-2 victory over Largo on Wednesday, there was no avoiding the target that now awaits in the final month of the regular season.

Osceola is 8-0 and has a good shot of going undefeated in the regular season. That could set up a rematch with Palm Harbor University in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference game between potentially unbeaten teams.

“We’ve really been playing well and moving the ball,” Warriors coach Anatol Popovich said.

Osceola has not just been beating nondescript teams. Included in the perfect start are wins against Seminole (2-0) and East Lake (4-0), both of whom advanced to the region finals last season.

Better still, Osceola had not allowed a goal entering Wednesday. But after outscoring their opponents a combined 40-0, the scoreless streak ended in the first half against the Packers.

Osceola scored first on a goal by Gabby Holcombe. Largo (5-3-1) tied the game off a free kick by Ashley Blanchard.

The game remained tied until early in the second half when the Warriors scored on goals by Courtney Smith and Cassidy Reich. Blanchard scored again to cut the deficit to 3-2.

It wasn’t until about 10 minutes remaining that Osceola was able to break away as Samantha Pifer finished the scoring to make it 4-2.

“The wins have come easy so far, but this was a good team we faced,” Popovich said. “This is something we needed, a tough test where we had to battle until the end.”

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