PALM HARBOR — Palm Harbor University found itself in unfamiliar territory in its region quarterfinal against Bloomingdale.
With 18 wins and one tie coming into Thursday's game, the Hurricanes were used to dominating, but in the Bulls, they found a team that wouldn't be intimidated.
Bloomingdale kept PHU on its heels from the opening kick and prevented the Hurricanes from establishing control.
With its season hanging in the balance, however, the defending Class 5A state champion found a way to persevere.
In the sixth minute of overtime, Colleen Lynch threaded a long pass from the left side of the field toward a streaking Catherine Brinkman. Brinkman gathered the ball in stride and, needing only to beat Bulls goalkeeper Christine Darnell, fired a hard shot on the ground just inside the far post to keep the Hurricanes' repeat title hopes alive in a 1-0 overtime victory.
"Colleen Lynch plays those balls every game, and it's always that right spot," a relieved Brinkman said. "You have to read the keeper, and she hesitated. Then she came out last second and she left that far post wide open."
Facing elimination, Brinkman calmly converted when other Hurricanes came just short. After being outplayed for much of the first half by a scrappy Bloomingdale squad, PHU (19-0-1) had the best scoring opportunity for either team just before the halftime whistle when Zoe Lombard skied high for a corner kick but watched disgustedly as her header banged off the post.
In the second minute after halftime, Queli Ornelas ran onto a perfectly placed through ball but sent her shot over the crossbar one-on-one with Darnell. Late in the half, Kelly Phipps thought her strike at Darnell might be the winner, but the Bulls keeper deflected the shot just enough.
Bloomingdale (14-6-2) didn't record a second-half shot and had only three for the game, but gave the Hurricanes their sternest test to date.
"They didn't have any weakness," PHU coach John Planamenta said. "They had team speed, possession. Everything that they did was very good."