TAMPA — Carrollwood Day coach Jim Harte has seen enough of his team this season to know it couldn’t play offensively against Shorecrest in Tuesday’s Class A region semifinal. The only way to have a chance against the Chargers, which the Patriots had lost to twice in the regular season, was to play defensively and hope for the best.
The strategy worked.
Despite being outshot 19-6, Carrollwood Day hung around and beat Shorecrest 2-1 (4-2, penalty kicks).
“We took a very conservative approach in this game,” Harte said. “We just fell back and let them come at us. Our team followed that game plan for all 100 minutes. We didn’t get impatient. Last time we played them we tried to press them and they sliced right through us. We learned a lesson. Don’t poke the bear.”
The defensive strategy made for an uneventful first half. But with 27 minutes left in regulation, Shorecrest (21-3-1) finally got on the board. Kalju Jake Nekvasil ran onto a through ball in the 18-yard box.
Carrollwood keeper Corey Shamley dove at Nekvasil’s feet and took him down. He was called for a foul, which set up a Nekvasil penalty kick. He nailed the shot to make it 1-0.
The Patriots (18-4-1) managed a corner kick with 15 minutes left. Spencer Peek lofted the kick into the box, and John Frost headed it in to tie the score.
“All we needed was one,” Harte said.
No team scored again in regulation or in two, 10-minute overtimes.
In penalty kicks, Max Ford started for the Chargers and scored. Peek did the same for the Patriots. Shamley then saved two straight kicks by Nekvasil and Robert Zolper. Carrollwood’s Greg Klug, Mihir Prasad and Frost all converted to end the game.
“You just have to stay positive,” Shamley said. “I really didn’t doubt myself for a second. I knew I could do it.”
Shorecrest coach Milen Gaganelov didn’t think the Patriots could do it. And he’s still not impressed with them or their patchy field after the loss.
“They got lucky,” Gaganelov said. “I think we are the better team, but hey, hats off to them. The field, it’s like a potato field. I think on a regular field we would get the win.”