FORT MYERS — Neither Bishop Verot nor St. Petersburg Catholic had allowed a goal during regionals, so something had to give in Friday's Class 3A region finale. And the giving came via the Vikings, as the Barons won 2-0 to advance to next week's state tournament in Tampa.
"They outscored us, but I don't think they outplayed us," Vikings coach Randy Zavada said. "We didn't get quality shots."
The Barons (13-11-0) were much happier with their shot selection. Just three minutes into the game, sophomore Hanna Dawkins put SPC up 1-0 when, from about 35 yards out, she sneaked the ball into the upper corner of the net.
"What can you do about a shot like that? Nothing," Zavada said. "After that first goal I thought they let down a little. I thought we'd get more good opportunities because they looked like they'd spent themselves."
Those opportunities never arose. On defense, the Barons packed the box, forcing Verot to set up and take shots from the outside. McKenna Duquette got one of Verot's only shots off late in the first half, but SPC keeper Maggie Dalessio grabbed the save.
Late in the second half, Duquette banged a free kick off the cross bar from about 20 yards out. At that point, the Vikings (14-4-3) trailed 2-0 thanks to a goal from Barons senior Erin Soto, who put away a rainbow pass from teammate Elizabeth Prather.
"This is incredible for the program," SPC coach Gary Kolb said. "We played four teams ranked in the top 50 (in the country) this year, and we finally got it and we came together at just the right time."