ST. PETERSBURG — In the face of mounting pressure, Clearwater Central Catholic's Kaitlin Parker remained calm with the Marauders' playoff hopes on her foot.
Her reward? The winning overtime goal Wednesday in CCC's 2-1, district semifinal victory over St. Petersburg Catholic that sends the Marauders into Friday's final against Berkeley Prep, a 5-2 winner over Tampa Catholic in the early semifinal.
With the score tied at 1 after 80 minutes of regulation, it took just 1:30 in overtime to decide a winner. Parker received the ball in front of the Barons' goal with defenders draped all over her and SPC goalkeeper Maggie Dalessio (six saves) blocking her immediate path.
Parker, a sophomore, didn't panic.
She calmly moved the ball from her dominant right foot to her left and slid a shot past a helpless Dalessio to send CCC (12-4-5) into the region playoffs.
"Torey Camporini played a one-touch ball to me," Parker said. "I took three touches, and my third touch was in. I knew I had to get it to my left foot because there was a girl on my right side. It's not my primary foot, but I can hit with it."
Parker's winner sends CCC (12-4-5) back to regionals after a one-year hiatus. The Marauders had a string of 18 straight playoff appearances broken last season.
"(Parker) didn't rush it," CCC coach Tom Typrowicz said. "She didn't just boot it. She set herself up and did it right."
SPC (15-5-2) was in danger of falling in regulation after CCC's Lindsey Cooper corralled a loose ball off a corner kick and blasted a shot into goal with 25 minutes left in the game for a 1-0 Marauders lead.
The Barons, though, tied the game with 11 minutes left when Casey McKeon's corner found the head of Meggie Dougherty Howard, who powered the shot into goal.