Seffner Christian boys soccer coach Mark Canterbury awoke Wednesday morning to the realization that what he had witnessed hours before in Lakeland was no dream. And certainly no fluke.
In a Class 2A, District 8 tournament semifinal, against a Santa Fe Catholic team that had defeated the Crusaders twice before, Canterbury watched rangy senior Steven Cunningham explode for a school-record seven goals in an 8-3 upset. Four of them came in a 10-minute span in the second half.
And the eighth goal? Cunningham had the assist on a throw-in.
"Unbelievable," Canterbury said. "I've never seen anything like that. Here's what's even more amazing: At times you may seven-goal or eight-goal a team, but this was a quality team, and they had already beaten us twice earlier in the season."
Cunningham, who also plays basketball and drained 10 3-pointers in a December game, scored his first goal in the 25th minute after Santa Fe -- the No. 2 seed -- had built a 2-0 lead. After the Crimson Hawks scored again, he responded with a half-volley from outside the 18 on the left corner.
"Then," Canterbury said, "it just becomes unbelievable, like a movie-type setting."
Cunningham tied the score in the 45th minute, then drilled a 25-yard shot from the top of the penalty box that skimmed the crossbar five minutes later. He scored on a breakaway two minutes after that and added his sixth goal on a penalty kick in the 55th minute.
His final goal, in the 70th minute, also skimmed the crossbar.
And yes, the seven goals are a school record.
"You can't explain it," said Canterbury, whose third-seeded team (16-5) faces top-seeded Lakeland Christian for the district title Friday at 7. "You really can't."