SEMINOLE — For one brief moment, Brooke Popejoy's goal with 13 minutes remaining gave Osceola a glimmer of hope in the Class 5A-3 region quarterfinal against Lakewood Ranch.
Lakewood Ranch's Kaitlyn Wolfe emphatically snuffed out any comeback hopes two minutes later in a 3-1 victory for the Mustangs on Thursday night.
Like a heavily favored prizefighter, Lakewood Ranch (18-3-1) bullied Osceola for the first 67 minutes.
The Mustangs landed two bone-jarring blows when freshman forward Nikki Kerrigan scored in the game's 19th minute and later in the 30th minute for a 2-0 lead at halftime.
Lakewood Ranch kept Osceola (15-5-1) at bay for much of the night. The Mustangs won the majority of the 50/50 balls.
They distributed crisply to keep possession away from the Warriors.
They stepped into passing lanes, preventing Osceola from mounting any offensive buildup.
"There were times where we should have gone for the long ball and instead we passed it through the middle which wasn't working for us," Osceola coach Tom Davis said.
"And then there were times where we had some shots and we weren't getting shots off."
With time running out on Osceola's playoff run, Popejoy unleashed a left-footed blast that curved just inside the far post to cut the Mustangs lead in half.
Osceola suddenly had new life, but it didn't last.
Moments later, Wolfe got the ball on a breakaway to the right of the Osceola goal and snuck a shot past goalkeeper Britney Bennett (nine saves) to wrap up the Mustangs' fifth straight appearance in the region semifinals.
"I think all around, they just deserved to win the game," Davis said.