TAMPA — Hillsborough held off a second-half push by Sickles for a 2-1 win and Freedom put away Gaither late to win 3-0 in the Class 5A, District 9 semifinals at Leto on Wednesday night.
The Terriers will take on the Patriots in the district final Friday.
Hillsborough looked like it was going to run away with the match, scoring a pair of quick goals by Megan Nelson and Morgan Parker in the first 25 minutes. It dominated possession, using accurate passing to keep the ball in the Gryphons' end for the majority of the half.
But the teams looked like they switched places at half.
Sickles played with desperation and within minutes Hillsborough was on its heels. The Gryphons stopped passes, tackled well and won the possession battle. But despite peppering the net and rattling the crossbar and hitting the post with shots, Sickles scored only once, on a goal by Melanie Gonzalez as Hillsborough was helped by some big stops by goalie Amber Davis.
"We did not respond well to the pressure," Hillsborough coach Scott Bower said. "They got the crowd into it, but luckily we got some big saves and were able to hold on and we are excited to be in the playoffs."
After losing in the district semifinals the past few seasons, Freedom advanced with a convincing win. The Patriots scored on a long shot by Ali Diioia in the 20th minute of the first half that coach Chris Hinkle said gave them confidence.
Gaither had only a few quality chances and missed a penalty kick as Freedom added goals by Delaina Archer and Olivia Bloemke in the final 10 minutes.