SEMINOLE — Initially, East Lake sophomore Amanda Byrne thought she had missed the framework in the opening moments of the Eagles' 5A-11 district semifinal against Tarpon Springs.
Fortunately for East Lake, the only thing off-target for Byrne was her prediction.
Byrne's goal in the first five minutes Thursday held up over the full 80 minutes to send East Lake into today's district final with a 1-0 victory. The Eagles (12-5-1) are making their sixth straight championship game appearance.
"At first I thought my shot was going to go to the right of the goal, but it curved just inside the net," Byrne said.
Byrne, who was set up by an accurate cross from Caitlyn Lopez, one-touched the pass into goal with her left foot.
For the remainder of the game, however, neither team was able to put much pressure on the other's goal. The first half ended with only two shots, none for the Spongers (5-10).
In the second half, East Lake had a chance to wrap up the victory in the 70th minute but had a clear look at goal bounce off the post. Tarpon's effort to equalize moments earlier also bounced harmlessly off the crossbar.
"If that had gone in, I think the tide might have turned for us," Tarpon Springs coach John Freiermuth said.
East Lake will face Seminole, a 6-0 winner over Clearwater, in today's final.
The Warhawks (15-2-2) struggled to get started against the Tornadoes (5-10) until Melanie Benner's goal with 19 minutes in the first half opened the flood gates.
Megan Lawrence and Sierra Lelii scored before the break to give Seminole a 3-0 halftime lead.
In the second half, Kaleigh Ford registered two goals and Gina Hayduke had another for the Warhawks, who have made the district final for the 10th year in a row.