PINELLAS PARK — The rematch is set.
After splitting the season series, Northeast and Pinellas Park needed to earn victories in the Class 5A, District 12 semifinals against their respective opponents. Both did just that in easy fashion with Northeast beating Gibbs 4-0 in the early game and host Pinellas Park ousting Largo 7-0.
"We wanted to approach this game (against Gibbs) as business as usual and then move on to Pinellas Park," said sophomore forward Kyle Apperson, who scored two goals. "At the beginning of the season, we wanted to win the districts and win the (PCAC) county championship. They got in the way of us winning the PCAC so now we have to focus on getting the district title."
Because of a scheduling misfire of sorts, the teams met twice during the regular season with the Vikings (9-2-3) earning a 3-2 season-opening win and the Patriots claiming the "district-counting" game a couple of weeks ago that sent Pinellas Park (9-2-2) to the PCAC, where it lost 5-1 to East Lake.
Both teams looked sharp Wednesday. Billy Vasquez recorded a hat trick for the Patriots while Justin Cupo made four spectacular saves in the second half to preserve the shutout.
"We know what to clean up after this game heading into Friday and it was good that we were challenged a bit on the defensive side of the ball," Pinellas Park coach Chip Bruce said. "Both games (against Northeast) were a battle and we expect nothing less. It'll be a good one."