TAMPA — When Indian Rocks Christian lost to Bishop McLaughlin 3-2 earlier this month, the Golden Eagles admittedly didn't look all that sharp.
But they had an excuse.
"We hadn't played in two weeks (during winter break)," IRC coach Joe Raissi said. "The girls really weren't in shape."
In Thursday's Class 2A, District 9 semifinal at Tampa Prep, IRC was ready, and it showed.
Behind four first-half goals, the third-seeded Golden Eagles cruised to a 4-1 win, clinching a region quarterfinal berth. They'll play top-seeded Tampa Prep, a 6-0 winner over Carrollwood Day, tonight at 7 in the final.
"We're ready for Tampa Prep," Raissi said. "That's what we're here for."
In its defeat to Bishop McLaughlin, IRC (10-6) missed numerous scoring chances. Thursday night, it let very few slip away.
Just a few minutes into the match, IRC ninth-grader Ashley Llerena connected on a 35-yard free kick to put her team ahead 1-0.
"That's her play," Raissi said. "She takes shots from 30 to 40 yards."
IRC goals from Juliette Raissi, Kristen Brown and Stephanie Pattison followed as the Golden Eagles built a 4-0 first-half lead.
"I told the girls they can't miss shots," Joe Raissi said.
For the most part, they didn't.
The same, however, couldn't be said for Bishop McLaughlin (11-3-2). The Hurricanes, who squandered a few early chances, didn't get on the board until Katie Hellman found the net in the 38th minute.
In the second half, IRC played keep away.
To diffuse Bishop McLaughlin's scoring chances, the Golden Eagles put their leading scorer, Jensen Eifert, on defense, and the plan worked to perfection.
"We really weren't on our game tonight," Bishop McLaughlin coach Tim Gronau said.