TAMPA — They were cold.
They were wet.
The rain felt like icicles pelting their exposed skin as they raced down the field.
A gale-like wind pushed those stinging pellets back into their ruddy faces.
One thing, though, was certain for the Seminole girls soccer team. There was no way they were walking off the field losers, especially after enduring possibly the worst conditions they had ever encountered on a soccer field.
Seminole controlled much of play in its Class 5A state semifinal against Mosley at University of Tampa's Pepin Stadium. The Warhawks had half a dozen chances to score but couldn't break past the Dolphins defense through 80 minutes of regulation.
In the fourth minute of overtime, however, the Warhawks' Rachel Jones latched onto the end of Megan Lawrence's cross from the left wing and, after successfully trapping the ball, pushed the winner past goalkeeper Emily Grammer to secure a 1-0 win and a spot in today's final (1:30 p.m. start) against Melbourne, ranked the No. 1 team in the nation by ESPNRise.
"Basically before we even started playing today, we said we weren't going to walk off the field without a win," Jones said. "We had no other options besides walking off the field a goal up."
Seminole's winning goal came from the unlikeliest of sources. Jones, a senior, played defense for about 90 percent of the year according to Warhawks coach Steve Kuplicki but was pushed up into the midfield against Mosley to create more balance in the attack. For Jones, it was her first goal of the season, though she never actually saw it cross the goal line as she was mobbed by teammates almost the second the ball left her foot.
"It happened so fast, and then Sierra (Lelii) tackled me and it was just one big pile," she said.
Lelii had good looks at goal in the 17th and 20th minutes but was unable to slip her shot past Grammer. Lawrence unleashed a wicked left-footed strike toward the upper left corner in the 32nd minute that sailed inches wide.
The Warhawks defense, meanwhile, held Mosley (19-4) in check, denying the Dolphins any real scoring chances.
Seminole (20-2-2) is in the state final for the first time since 1991. The Warhawks have made the final three times but have yet to win. To break through, they'll have to defeat defending Class 6A state champ Melbourne.
"The score at the beginning of the game is going to be 0-0," Kuplicki said. "We're going to come out and hopefully bring a title back to Seminole."