PALM HARBOR — No one said defending a state championship is easy. But now Palm Harbor University is one step closer to another 6A crown, scoring early and staving off a ferocious Bloomingdale attack late in Thursday's 1-0 victory.
"We always want to come out strong and put pressure on the other team," said PHU coach John Planamenta. "It doesn't always happen that way, but today it did."
In the seventh minute, the Hurricanes' Skye Barba angled a shot toward Bloomingdale goalkeeper Melissa Jazik, who punched the ball out on one of her 10 saves. PHU's Alyssa Skyrd took advantage of the loose rebound and scored the lone goal.
"Skye crossed it in and (Jazik) hit it out and I was there to hit it in," Skyrd said. "(Our game plan) was score first and get back and play defense."
PHU (19-2-0) was forced to stay back and contain a storming Bloomingdale squad that was desperate for a goal. The Bulls (11-7-1) missed an opportunity on a free kick in the 49th minute, but continued to pressure the Hurricanes.
"Bloomingdale had to go for it, and they were," Planamenta said. "So we started playing more defensive and conservative."
PHU's Morgan Lorenti came up with a huge save late, stopping a blast from Bloomingdale's Elyse Fonteccio in the 76th minute conserving PHU's 1-0 victory.
"It's just reaction," Lorenti said.