NEW PORT RICHEY — Sickles had to rally to knock off Freedom 4-1 in the Class 4A, District 8 semifinal, Brianna Hamson scoring twice on penalty kicks. Mitchell (21-0) hosts Sickles (10-4-1) in tonight’s final. Mitchell won 4-1 in the regular season.
Sickles avenged a 3-1 defeat to Freedom. The Patriots took the lead when Emily Dabrowski found herself uncovered on a third-minute breakaway.
“They came out really fast, and we were flat,” Sickles coach George Arroyo said. “But from the first game, we knew they liked to press forward, and we could use our speed on the other end.”
Indeed, forwards Hamson and Stephanie Linton found open space to create chances. In the 18th minute, Freedom’s Emma Eldridge was called for a foul in the penalty box. She got all of the ball but was judged to have first made contact with the player.
Hamson took the penalty kick — the first successful one for Sickles all season — to tie it. Cristina Clements made it 2-1 about 15 minutes later.
Freedom’s frustrations with the officiating increased when a would-be tying goal late in the first half was called off and another penalty in the box led to Hamson making it 3-1 eight minutes after the break.
Patriots coach Jenna Ball called the calls “upsetting and frustrating” but credited the opponent.
“Sickles is a great team,” she said. “And they outplayed us.”
The Gryphons sealed it on Linton’s goal in the 63rd minute. She also drew the foul that led to the third goal.
Freedom (12-4-3) did not force Sickles’ Brooke Salas to make a second-half save though Emily Brenner hit the crossbar late.