TAMPA — Once Newsome's brief celebration, which included dousing coach Kelly Townsend with a cooler of freezing water on a bitter Friday night, was complete, Hillsborough County's top team quickly turned the page.
The Wolves completed their first perfect regular season in school history with a 3-0 win over Gaither on Friday, snapping the Cowboys' 10-game unbeaten streak. But they kept the accomplishment in perspective, knowing they must stay perfect to meet their goal of a state title as the postseason opens next week.
"It doesn't mean anything now. We're done if we lose from here on out," Townsend said. "It was a great accomplishment, but it's over now. I think we've proven ourselves time and time again that we are one of the best teams in the county."
Both teams enter next week's district tournaments as top seeds. But Newsome (19-0) distanced itself by dominating possession with speed and endurance.
"We kind of have a target on our back because we've had such a good season," junior middle back Jackie Simpson said. "That makes us want to work even harder because we know people are coming to get us."
Gaither (9-4-2), which played minus three injured starters, was kept in the game early by backup goalkeeper Jessica Carter, who made three diving saves in the first 20 minutes.
Despite numerous early opportunities, Newsome didn't score until Simpson cleaned up a shot off a jumble in front of the net off a corner kick in the 24th minute.
Junior midfielder Shea Rhoney put Newsome up 2-0 with a goal in front of an open near side of the net in the 58th minute, and junior Liz Haumschild scored in stoppage time for the final goal.
Gaither senior John Nardozzi made a diving save on Joey Perfetto in the last seconds of stoppage time to preserve a scoreless tie with Newsome.
The Cowboys (12-2-3) entered having lost two of three.
"Our preparation right now is for districts," coach Eric Sims said. "I would definitely rather play a quality game like this than to play a blowout. So I think it prepares us well. We haven't been playing well of late, and I think a game like this can put us back on track."
For Newsome (7-3-3), 6-0-1 in its past seven, it was the first of three games in a 24-hour span against top county competition. Today, it faces Jesuit at 1 and Plant at 5:30 in pool play of the Wharton Invitational.
"It's always a great game between Gaither and Newsome," Wolves coach Neil Rickmers said. "Two posts were hit. Either team could have won. We're going to have a heck of a day, but I couldn't be prouder of the guys. They kept pushing, and we had some great combination play. We just couldn't get one in. John made some great saves, and so did our goalie."
Newsome's Austin Nutting made eight saves.