TAMPA — Tampa Prep's road to a possible third straight state championship took an interesting turn Tuesday night.
Terrapins coach Doug Smith sat four senior starters in a coach's decision and shifted other players into new roles — including a goalkeeping swap that sent junior Brandon Weisz to the position for the first time in his prep career. In fact, all six Tampa Prep seniors remained on the bench for the entire match.
However, Bishop McLaughlin wasn't able to take advantage of the lineup changes as the Terrapins controlled the match on their way to a 4-0 victory. The win sets up a third straight region final against rival Bradenton St. Stephen's, which Tampa Prep has defeated the previous two postseasons on its way to state championships.
Bishop McLaughlin, which finishes its season at 12-9-1, did not put much pressure on new keeper Weisz, who had to make only three saves.
It took Tampa Prep (13-4-4) a half to adjust to the lineup shifts. Though the Terrapins outshot the Hurricanes 22-5, Tampa Prep converted only one scoring chance in the first half, a goal by Pablo Calvino.
Tampa Prep's relentless offensive attack took over in the second half as Twain Glaser scored on a rebound shot, Anthony Baumann scored after a drive up the middle of the field, and Wes Sever notched a score off a pass from Baumann.
"We're fortunate our team played very, very well," said Smith, who did not specify the reason for the benchings. "It was good to see our support guys come in a play well. It (sitting the seniors) was just one of those things we had to do."