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5A girls soccer: Seminole drops Venice, back at state for first time since 1991

VENICE — It seems farfetched to think a team could be unsatisfied with a one-goal lead going into halftime.

But that's exactly the situation Seminole found itself facing, up 1-0 after 40 minutes of play in its region final at Venice.

A heavy, continuous wind blowing right to left kept the ball on Venice's side of the field for much of the first half as Seminole had the breeze at its back.

Warhawks coach Steve Kuplicki was hoping his side could push one, maybe two more scores into goal before halftime, knowing that the playing field would be reversed in the second half. As it turns out, one goal was plenty.

The Warhawks defense completely shut down Venice in the second half, limiting the Indians to only one non-threatening shot on goal in a 1-0 victory that sends Seminole to the state semifinals for the first time since 1991.

"The second half was crazy," Seminole senior Megan Lawrence said. "It was like the wind was coming straight through us. That was the worst wind I've ever played in."

Lawrence helped silence the Venice crowd in the 20th minute when she threaded a pass from the midfield stripe to Sierra Lelii streaking down the right side. Lelii ran onto the ball and sent a low shot past goalkeeper Ashley Weaver with clinical precision to put the Warhawks ahead 1-0.

Seminole (19-2-2) pushed forward the remainder of the first half, searching for another goal, but Venice (16-6-3) had the best opportunities before the break. Dana LaRocque was one-on-one with Seminole goalkeeper Casey Merson in the 28th minute, but Merson stonewalled the forward's attempt. With two minutes left before the halftime whistle, Merson punched another LaRocque shot over the crossbar to preserve the Warhawks' slim lead.

Merson was prepared for a barrage of shots in the second half, but they never came. The Warhawks stepped into passing lanes, were the first to loose balls and prevented Venice from establishing any kind of offensive threat.

"We weren't letting them turn much," Merson said. "We were just holding it tight back there."

Seminole needs just two more victories to capture the school's first state title in girls soccer. The Warhawks will play Mosley on Friday at the University of Tampa.

"I think we just wanted it that badly today. I know I did," said Lawrence, a UT signee who, along with Merson, will get to play on her college field next week." I've wanted this since freshman year. It's just an honor."

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All games at the University of Tampa's Pepin Stadium

5A: Seminole vs. Lynn Haven Mosley, 12:45 Friday

6A: Palm Harbor U. vs. Miami Lourdes, 5:15 Friday

5A girls soccer: Seminole drops Venice, back at state for first time since 1991 02/06/10 [Last modified: Saturday, February 6, 2010 11:00pm]
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