TARPON SPRINGS — The final three minutes of Wednesday night’s game between Palm Harbor University and East Lake was a microcosm of the teams’ seasons. With the score tied at 2, David Caulfield’s header for the Eagles from about 10 yards out sailed just over the crossbar.
A minute later, Robert Sennabaum buried a header off a perfect cross from Jesse Caron into the upper right corner to give the Hurricanes a 3-2 win.
“I knew from the second (Caron) made the cross that I was going to put that in,” Sennabaum said. “It was happening all game. We were struggling a little bit, but we came through.”
So far this season PHU has been finding ways to come through while East Lake has found ways to lose. Hurricanes coach Alex Delgado thought his team got off lucky against the Eagles.
“I thought East Lake played much better than us,” Delgado said. “We have to figure out a way to be more consistent. I don’t think we deserved to win.”
The Hurricanes (5-0-1) controlled play early but East Lake found the net first. In the 21st minute, Stephen Wankat spotted Hunter Davis open in the middle of the field and placed a perfect throw-in at his feet. Davis took advantage of the space and blasted a kick from 30 yards past goalkeeper Josh Preisig.
That goal seemed to wake up PHU. In the 31st minute, Matt Corbett settled a ball in the box and managed to get off a hard shot in traffic. The ball whizzed by keeper Will Wiard to tie the game.
Late in the half, the Hurricanes took a 2-1 lead. Kiril Dimov won a ball at midfield and sent a long pass to Sennabaum down the right side. He outraced Preisig to the pass and angled a shot from about 20 yards into the open net.
But the Eagles (1-4) weren’t done. With 21 minutes remaining, Davis ran down a ball that looked as if it were going over the end line. He booted it into the middle of the field, where Taylor Youngblood was perfectly positioned. His shot from 5 yards out found the corner of the net.
The physical game looked like it would end in a tie, but PHU was able to bury its only good second-half chance.
“This game was really a collection of all four games for us,” East Lake coach Sergei Stopek said. “We had the better of the play at times, we were confident, but it’s just not falling into place. I think once we get things clicking our record could be deceiving.”
In the girls match, PHU (6-0-3) remained undefeated with a 2-0 win over the Eagles. Katie Im scored an unassisted goal in the first half. Shalisa Crowell scored on an assist from Skye Barba in the second half to put the game away.