TAMPA — Tempers flared Thursday as Gaither narrowly avoided upset with a 2-0 win over Freedom in a hard-fought match.
The Cowboys appeared to have the upper hand after taking the lead just two minutes into the match when a free kick by junior Jacob Snidle smacked off the crossbar and directly onto the head of the oncoming Gaither player Justin Santos, who easily poked it past the goalkeeper.
"Getting that early goal was good, but then it seemed like we played to just not give up a goal," Gaither coach Eric Simms said.
With five minutes remaining, Cowboys team captain Jordan See received a pass on the attacking side of the midfield line and began marching up the field. He laid the ball off to streaking teammate Steffan Siebel-Cortopassi, who cut behind a defender and blasted a shot from 20 yards out.
Gaither will meet Sickles, which knocked off Hillsborough 3-0 thanks to a hat trick from junior forward Gavin O'Malley.
The first half nearly ended in a stalemate before O'Malley broke the deadlock in the 36th minute when he brought down a long pass with his chest then turned and unleashed a low line drive to the near post, where the keeper was beaten.
O'Malley would repeat the turn and shoot technique for his third goal in the 71st minute, finishing with a right-footed volley from the top of box that would seal the game for Sickles.