TAMPA — Heads were crashing, bodies were banging and even some parents were digging into one another.
The Berkeley Prep-St. Petersburg Catholic rivalry is competitive, entertaining and has gone beyond merely a heated contest between elite programs.
The stakes are personal.
This season, the Buccaneers swept the season series and proved to be superior once more in a 3-1 win Tuesday in a Class 3A region semifinal. The win advances Berkeley to its first region final since 2005.
"The goal for these kids is not just to get to the final four but to have a chance," Berkeley coach Ken Roberts said. "Tough road; there's some strong teams ahead."
Berkeley (19-3-2) wanted to generate opportunities early to try to build a big lead. The Bucs scored in the third minute when junior Samantha Newhaller fed forward Taylor Batye on a two-on-one.
Barons senior Vita Bobelis had an answer less than a minute later on a breakaway attempt, but Bucs keeper Bryane Heaberlin made a clutch save. Heaberlin, who is currently working with the United States' 15-and-under national team pool in South Florida, flew in for the game.
Berkeley went up 2-0 when Batye returned the favor, feeding Newhaller for a 2-0 lead in the 14th minute.
SPC freshman keeper Maggie Dalessio did all she could to keep the Barons in it with nine saves. And SPC (14-5-2) was awarded a penalty kick in the 54th minute, which was perfectly executed by senior Claire Krueger to pull within one.
Then in the 68th minute, Berkeley was awarded a penalty kick, which Batye fired home for the final score.