TAMPA — If you looked skyward at Sickles' stadium Friday, you might have spotted tiny flurries dancing in the wind beneath the lights. If you looked on the field, you would've spotted something equally implausible.
The Seminole Warhawks, upsetting their second nationally ranked foe in four nights.
Seventy-two hours after dismantling East Lake, the Warhawks played Sickles — 15th in the ESPN Rise Fab 50 — to a 1-all deadlock for 100 minutes before dominating the penalty kick round for a 2-1 (PK, 4-1) stunner in Friday's Class 5A region final.
Three nights earlier, Gryphons senior goalkeeper Brandon Stout blocked all three Gaither tries in the penalty kick round to get his team to Friday. Eleven nights before that, he had blocked three of four Gaither PKs to give Sickles (23-2-3) its first district title.
"I wasn't happy to go to PKs in districts, I wasn't happy to go to PKs in the semifinals against Gaither, but it's part of the game," Gryphons coach Tony Calvo said. "We should've finished the opportunities that we had (in regulation) but we didn't."
In a contest as physical as the winds were frigid, both teams failed to complete a handful of prime scoring opportunities. Examples: Warhawks junior Charles Lynch's header that bounced off the crossbar and Sickles senior Boris Simeunovic's shot on an empty net that defender Tyler Zulewski lunged to kick away.
Seminole's lone goal in regulation came on Shane Wixted's penalty kick in the 28th minute. Sickles tied the score in the first minute of the second half when Matt Brown nailed a shot past Ryan Downey.
Downey redeemed himself in the best-of-five penalty-kick round.
"I told them it's been a magical year. It wasn't in our cards," Calvo said.