TAMPA — Playing not to lose ended up being just good enough for Sickles on Wednesday night.
The Gryphons defeated host King 2-0 in the Class 5A, District 9 semifinals, but not before the Lions gave them all they could handle.
King was dangerous for the majority of the second half and barely missed on several quality chances to tie the score at 1 before a late goal by the Gryphons put the game away with just under 10 minutes to go.
"It wasn't pretty," Sickles coach Tony Colvo said. "I think we played a little scared, but you have to give King credit. They are a good team."
Sickles will play Gaither, which defeated Freedom 5-0, in Friday's final.
The Gryphons took the lead in the 21st minute when freshman Joe Cerillo knocked in a hard, low shot from the top of the box past the goalie.
King had three great chances in the second half, but balls were cleared at the last minute or shots drifted just wide of the frame.
Carlos Rodriguez, however, sealed the win for Sickles when he put a low shot in the box just past a defender and just underneath the King goalkeeper.
Gaither ended up needing just 10 minutes to put away Freedom.
The Cowboys scored two quick goals in the seventh and ninth minutes and added another three in the second half.
Junior Jordan See led Gaither offensively, breaking out of a bit of a scoring slump with a hat trick against the Patriots.
Freedom only had a few quality chances for the match, but also played without senior captain Ellis Curry.