BRADENTON — Shorecrest is accustomed to playing St. Stephen's and therefore knew the Class 2A semifinal game would be a difficult one. After taking an early lead, Tuesday's game ended about the same way as the previous two years' games had: with a 5-1 St. Stephen's victory.
"They played so good as a team," Chargers forward Stephen Spanos said. "We come down here and it's kind of frustrating."
Shorecrest took the lead in the eighth minute when St. Stephen's misplayed a throw-in and Spanos first beat a defender, then Falcons goalie Chandler Whidden to put the Chargers ahead. It was Spanos' 49th goal of the season.
The Falcons put Chargers goalie Chris Partenheimer to the test and he withstood the challenge most of the first half. After the Falcons moved the ball down the field, defender Donato Carrassi kicked a shot that Partenheimer saved before the Falcons missed again over the crossbar.
Partenheimer again was up to the task, stopping another scoring chance before St. Stephen's finally broke through.
Chargers freshman Reese Wiltshire fouled Alex Walters in the penalty area and Walters converted the penalty kick to tie the score at 1.
"That penalty kick really changed the momentum," Chargers coach Jeff Diedrich said. "They were just a stronger team with way better passing."
St. Stephen's tacked on another goal late in the half when Partenheimer stopped a shot, but the rebound was put away by Ariel Hughes.
The Falcons continued to apply pressure as Falcons midfielder Ryley Delgado tallied three goals in the second half.
"We played better this season than last," Spanos said. "They just had the better team."