SEMINOLE — Jordyn Turner was only a freshman last season, but she remembers walking off the field after last season’s heartbreaking double-overtime loss to Melbourne in the Class 5A state championship match thinking she had missed her one chance to win a title.
Friday at 12:45 p.m. against favored Newsome, Turner and Co. gets another chance.
“This is the year; we have to do it,” she said.
The Warhawks (22-2-1) will be competing in the state semifinals for the sixth time under coach Steve Kuplicki. They have made the championship game four times, but lost each time.
To get there again, they will have to beat an undefeated Wolves team that is ranked No. 2 in the country by ESPN Rise.
“There’s a feeling on the team that we have unfinished business there,” said Kuplicki. “That’s been the undertone to the season.”
No one has more unfinished business than forward Sierra Lelii. Last year, she was ejected early in the second half of the loss to Melbourne. A 34-goal scorer, the Warhawks missed her playmaking but still fought to a 1-1 tie in regulation.
“I honestly didn’t know what to expect this year,” Lelii said. “I wasn’t really sure we’d be going back. It’s just incredible to have that chance.”
Gina Hayduke leads Seminole with 35 goals. A sweeper on her club team, the junior has emerged as a dangerous scorer from anywhere on the field thanks to a right leg that Kuplicki said produces booming shots some of the players on the boys team are jealous of.
And defensively, the Warhawks have relied on stalwarts like Tara Belvin, Sydney Wendel and Alyssa McHenry to keep the pressure off keeper Jackie Aiosa, who hasn’t allowed a goal since Jan. 11.
“I think everyone has stepped up this year,” Hayduke said. “By the middle of the year, I thought we had a team that could definitely go back.”