TAMPA — For the Tampa Prep seniors, the state final four is the only way.
"They don't know anything other than that," coach Cindy Schofield said.
For the fourth straight year, the Terrapins have reached the state semifinals, this time by handily defeating visiting Benjamin 3-1 Friday in the 2A region final.
"We knew we were more athletic and skillful than (Benjamin)," forward Colby Maffei said. "We worked so hard to get back (to the final four)."
Tampa Prep (19-5-2) got on the board first in the 23rd minute on a Spenser Hollar goal. Amber Miller played a well-timed through ball to Jackie Rosenthal, who sliced through the middle of the box. Rosenthal fired a shot that deflected off the diving Benjamin keeper, but Hollar kept charging and cleaned up the rebound.
The Buccaneers tied it five minutes before the half on a penalty kick, but Maffei got the eventual winner nine minutes out of the break. Lauren Knoke's long throw sailed over Maffei's head and landed between the junior striker and the Bucs keeper. Maffei headed it off the bounce and with the keeper well off her line, the ball trickled in.
"Knoke is so good with her throws," said Maffei, who's committed to LSU. "All I had to do was put it in the back of the net."
Rosenthal then all but wrapped it up with a left-footed strike from about 20 yards out in the 54th minute, sending the Terps back to states at adjacent UT stadium.
"All we have to do is walk across the street," Schofield said. "It feels good."