EAST LAKE — Seminole and East Lake had two weeks off from high school competition to get ready for Monday’s game in which the No. 1 seed in the Class 5A, District 11 tournament and a berth in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference final were on the line.
But many players had club games during that span. In fact, some played in the final of a club tournament Monday morning.
Playing as many as five games in the past four days took its toll. Legs were staggering and shots were sailing wide. So it was fitting the winning shot came from the nod of a head instead of a kick.
Locked in a scoreless tie, the Warhawks’ Gina Hayduke headed in a corner kick in the 57th minute. That was all Seminole needed in a 2-0 victory.
“We were all exhausted,” Hayduke said. “We were just trying to survive. On the cross, I was away from my mark. But I was able to find an open space and knock it in.”
For most of the game, the Warhawks dictated the pace. But there were shots that went above the net or were wide or were saved.
Then Seminole (14-1-1) found its opportunity. On the corner kick, Hayduke rushed forward and her head struck the ball like a fist from 5 yards.
The Eagles (9-4-1) had only one shot on goal after the Warhawks went ahead.
Seminole delivered the knockout punch in the final minute when Sierra Lelii maneuvered past a trio of defenders and got the ball past a flailing keeper.
“Sierra made a few quick moves and beat the goalie,” Warhawks coach Steve Kuplicki said. “It was definitely a highlight reel goal for her.”
The win seals the north division of the PCAC for Seminole, which has just one remaining conference game and owns tiebreakers over East Lake and Palm Harbor University.