MELBOURNE — Palm Harbor University played its kind of game Friday in a Class 5A girls soccer state semifinal, but Vero Beach was able to score the only goal.
Vero Beach forward Meagan Notargiacomo struck on a penalty kick in the 31st minute as the Indians ended the previously unbeaten Hurricanes’ run to the final four in a 1-0 contest on the campus of Eastern Florida State College.
“I’m proud of our girls. Vero’s front six was very fast, and we did a great job containing them,” PHU coach John Planamenta said.
Jennifer Cairns’ free kick from 30 yards out made it through traffic and into the box 10 yards in front of Hurricanes goalkeeper Rachel Taylor. Victoria Dorr fielded the ball and made a move toward Taylor to get off a shot but was tripped by a center back.
“It was a crazy play with the ball bouncing around,” Dorr said. “I was maybe 10 yards out and she hit me in the left ankle. I knew that Meagan was one of our top PK players, so I let her do (the PK).”
Notargiacomo then booted the kick over Taylor and into the top of the net to boost the Indians (20-3-1).
With a stiff breeze at its back, PHU (18-1-5) had the better scoring chances early, though no shot really threatened Indians freshman goalkeeper Ashley Campbell as most went wide or were long balls that amounted to easy saves.
“We were just hoping we’d get one goal, keep the momentum going and add to it,” said Planamenta, whose team totaled five shots.
“Our girls on the back did a great job with handling their speed, but we struggled supporting our offensive attack and had some offsides that hurt us. We were really pushing in the second half.”
Vero Beach found its offensive rhythm in the 16th minute when it forced a corner kick. Notargiacomo then had the half’s best chance during play two minutes later when her long, high shot appeared as if it would beat Taylor, but the senior keeper stretched up and made a fingertip save, tipping it to herself.
“Palm Harbor was the best defensive team we’ve played all year,” said Vero Beach coach Jose Gibert.