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After a recent 2-1 loss to Indian Rocks Christian, Seminole coach Rick Masi had seen enough. He loaded his team on the bus, made the short drive back to school, ordered his players on the soccer field and put them through an hour-long workout meant to get their attention.
“I busted their (butts),’’ Masi said. “We did duck walks (high stepping while running) and crab crawls. It was not pretty.’’
After a grueling hour, Masi let his Warhawks go home. With the district tournament looming, Seminole (13-4-3) does not have much momentum. The defending Class 4A runnerup has qualified for regionals 12 straight seasons and 13 of the past 14.
Masi has been Seminole’s coach 21 years. He won a state title in 2003 and has been part of the region streak. The post-game workout was meant to get his team’s attention prior to tournament time.
“I told them that they think just because you wear a Seminole shirt you’re automatically going to win,’’ Masi said. “I told them they are living on everyone else’s sweat and blood who busted their butts. They are living on their reputation. Now they have to make their own reputation.’’
Seminole did earn the No. 1 seed for the Class 4A, District 10 tournament and gets a bye into the semifinals. A win there would ensure a district final and 13th straight region appearance.
Masi doesn’t see that as a sure thing. Not only is there the IRC loss, but in a win against Tarpon Springs prior to that, he said the Warhawks were 0-for-26 on scoring chances at one point.
Masi, 60, has never minced words.
“We’re having trouble scoring goals,’’ Masi said. “If we don’t straighten that out, then we’ll break a streak of (12) straight years of making regionals. If we don’t get on the same page and start scoring some goals, I told the boys that this will be on their grave stones.
They are the ones who broke the streak.’’
Unlike last season, Seminole does not have a bona fide goal scorer. But it does have plenty of returners from last year’s state runnerup.
Seniors Kenneth Matthews, Jacob Kiag, Nathan Yeager, Dean Favetta and Eric Sines, and juniors Liam Rafferty, Liam Murphy, Andrew Goodman and Shane Butler all contributed in 2012. Masi hopes his team’s experience will kick in during the playoffs.
Along with a bit of an attitude change.
“We need to get someone to step up,’’ Masi said. “They’re too nice. They get knocked off the ball and they don’t do anything about it.’’
The last time Seminole won the state championship, it made a return visit to the final in 2004. Masi, more than anyone, would love for history to repeat itself.
In last season’s final, the Warhawks held a 1-0 lead against Orange Park Fleming Island with less than 10 minutes to go. But Seminole lost the lead, then the game, in overtime.
Masi blames himself, and he’d love to erase a bad memory.
“It kills me all the time,’’ he said. “Not a day goes by that it doesn’t haunt me. I went to a 4-5-1 and put three up top. We’re winning 1-0 in the last 10 minutes. I should have put three back on defense and closed the game out. It was a coaching blunder and it cost us. It was my fault, not their fault. It will haunt me until I die. Honestly.
“It’s a motivator. I’d like one more crack before I quit.’’
Tuesday: No. 5 North Port at No. 4 Sarasota Riverview, 7; No. 6 Countryside at No. 3 Palm Harbor University, 7; No. 7 Pinellas Park at No. 2 St. Petersburg, 7
Jan. 24: Riverview-North Port winner at No. 1 East Lake, 7; Countryside-PHU winner vs. Pinellas Park-St. Petersburg winner, 7*
Jan. 25: Final, 7**
*Higher seed hosts
**Finals are in Pinellas County unless two Sarasota County teams make the final.
Class 4A-10 at Seminole
Tuesday: No. 4 Tarpon Springs vs. No. 5 Dixie Hollins, 6; No. 3 Clearwater vs. No. 6 Largo, 8
Jan. 24: No. 2 Northeast vs. Clearwater-Largo winner, 6; No. 1 Seminole vs. Tarpon-Dixie winner, 8
Jan. 25: Final, 7
Tuesday: No. 8 Gibbs at No. 1 Palmetto, 7; No. 5 Bradenton Southeast at No. 4 Dunedin, 7; No. 7 Boca Ciega at No. 2 Lakewood, 7; No. 6 Bradenton Bayshore at No. 3 Osceola, 7
Jan. 23: Palmetto-Gibbs winner vs. Dunedin-Southeast winner, 7; Lakewood-Bogie winner vs. Osceola-Bayshore winner, 7*
Jan. 25: Final, 7 **
*Highest seed hosts
**If teams from the same county are in the final, that county hosts.
Class 2A-9 at Tampa Catholic
Jan. 23: No. 1 Berkeley Prep vs. No. 4 Clearwater Central Catholic, 5; No. 2 Tampa Catholic vs. No. 3 St. Petersburg Catholic, 7
Jan. 25: Final, 7
Class A-8 at Shorecrest
Tuesday: No. 8 Keswick Christian vs. No. 9 Bradenton Christian, 5; No. 4 Northside vs. No. 5 Admiral Farragut, 7
Jan. 23: No. 3 Out-of-Door vs. No. 6 Sarasota Christian, 3; No. 2 Shorecrest vs. No. 7 Canterbury, 5; No. 1 St. Stephen’s vs. Keswick-Bradenton Christian winner, 7
Jan. 25: No. 1 St. Stephen’s vs. Keswick-Bradenton Christian winner, 5; Shorecrest-Canterbury winner vs. ODA-Sarasota Christian winner, 7
Jan. 26: Final, 7
Tuesday: No. 8 Academy at the Lakes at No. 1 Tampa Prep, TBD; No. 5 Cambridge at No. 4 Carrollwood Day, TBD; No. 7 Seffner Christian at No. 2 Calvary Christian, TBD; No. 6 Bishop McLaughlin at No. 3 Indian Rocks Christian, TBD
Jan. 24 at Tampa Prep: Seffner-Calvary winner vs. Bishop-IRC winner, 5; Cambridge-CDS winner vs. AATL-Tampa Prep winner, 7
Jan. 25 at Tampa Prep: Final, 7
Rodney Page can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @RodneyHomeTeam.