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Class 5A, District 9

5A-9 soccer final: PHU shuts down East Lake

EAST LAKE — East Lake boasts three of the county's most prolific scorers in Leah Fisher, Alicia Nalley and Tatiana Perez.

But against Palm Harbor University in the 5A-9 final Friday, the talented trio hardly sniffed the Hurricanes goal.

Playing what star forward Catherine Brinkman called the team's "most complete game of the season," a notion seconded by coach John Planamenta, PHU completely befuddled the Eagles' attack in a dominating 3-0 victory.

PHU (17-2) controlled play in the midfield. It kept the ball away from the feet of East Lake's dangerous weapons. And when scoring opportunities arose, the Hurricanes converted with alarming proficiency.

"We knew we had to play how we always play against them — 100 percent, and more," Brinkman said. "Our midfield shut them down, and so did our defense. (Fisher, Nalley and Perez) barely touched the ball."

On the other hand, Brinkman, who leads the county in scoring, regularly found the ball at her feet, often with spectacular results. In the game's 28th minute, the junior forward took on three defenders in the box, cut back against the grain and found an open sliver of space to shoot past keeper Alicia Aldridge (four saves) for a 1-0 PHU lead.

Six minutes later, a cross into the box bounced off multiple players until landing at the feet of Queli Ornelas, who calmly added the Hurricanes' second goal just before halftime.

"The ball comes down to her feet and instead of panicking she buries it to the far corner," Planamenta said.

After halftime, Brinkman added her second goal with 22:30 remaining to secure the Hurricanes' seventh district title in a row.

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5A-9 soccer final: PHU shuts down East Lake 01/23/09 [Last modified: Friday, January 23, 2009 11:57pm]

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