5A region soccer: Seminole 3, Gaither 0

SEMINOLE — Sierra Lelii had three Gaither players standing around her, but Gina Hayduke knew if she passed the ball in her teammate's direction, magic might happen.

So she sent the ball through, and sure enough, Lelii got to it first, dribbled down the left side, and just as one of the Gaither defenders caught up, magic happened.

Lelii struck the ball with her left foot, bending an impossible-to-stop shot to the far post to put Seminole on the board.

And into the state semifinals again.

Seminole scored two more times to beat the Cowboys 3-0 in the region championship Friday night.

The Warhawks (22-2-2) will play Newsome, ranked No. 4 nationally by ESPN Rise, in Friday's Class 5A state semifinal in Tampa at Pepin Stadium.

"It's great, and I'm so happy to be going back," said Lelii, who missed most of the second half of last year's 2-1 overtime state final loss to Melbourne with a red card.

"I think we have some unfinished business there."

Lelii's goal in the 22nd minute made it 1-0. She sprinted past the Gaither defenders to get the ball and looked to be headed in for a 1-on-1 opportunity, but was stuck wide as the Cowboys recovered.

"I was going forward and looked to see if Jordyn (Turner) was there to cross it to," Lelii said. "I didn't have a great angle. I just tried for the upper right 90."

In the 68th minute, Hayduke hit a set piece to the near post, and Gaither keeper Amanda High appeared to stop it, but the ball got free and Melanie Benner centered it quickly to Tara Belvin for a 2-0 lead.

Hayduke added a penalty kick with nine minutes left to complete the victory over Gaither, which finished 12-6-2 and failed to muster much of an attack against Seminole's defensive line of Belvin, Sidney Wendel and Alicia Tyler.

"It's a sweet victory," Belvin said. "We wanted all year to get back to state, and maybe now we can do this year what we didn't last year."

. Up next

State soccer

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa

5A: Newsome vs. Seminole, 12:45 Friday

3A: St. Petersburg Catholic vs. Lake Highland Prep, 12:45 Thursday

5A region soccer: Seminole 3, Gaither 0 02/04/11 [Last modified: Saturday, February 5, 2011 12:00am]

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