Boys soccer: Berkeley Prep, Clearwater Central Catholic advance to district final

Published January 31
Updated January 31

TAMPA ó For Jared Zukoski, it was time for a change.

Zukoski, a junior, scored the deciding goal as fourth-seeded Berkeley Prep upset No. 1 Tampa Prep 2-1 (2-1 in penalty kicks) on Wednesday night in the Class 2A, District 9 semifinals.

Berkeley Prep will host second-ranked Clearwater Central Catholic on Friday for the championship. The Mauraders registered a 2-1 victory against No. 3 Tampa Catholic.

Berkeley Prep (10-10-1) and Tampa Prep (10-4-3) battled to a 1-1 tie through regulation and a pair of 10-minute overtime periods. The Terrapins scored only once on five penalty kicks against Buccaneer goalkeeper Pete St. John, a goal by Jared Lowenkron on their third attempt.

Vinh Vu scored on Berkeley Prepís second penalty kick, and Zukoski hit the winner two tries later against Tampa Prep goalkeeper Alexander Rodriguez with a shot into the left corner of the net. St. John clinched the victory by smothering Augusto de Oliveiraís attempt near the left post.

"(Rodriguez) is my club goalie, and we always in club training do penalty (kicks)," Zukoski said. "He always knows where I go, so I decided to mix it up and go the other way.

"I knew I had to score for the team, because we worked so hard for that game and there was no way I could have let our team down."

Gage Hupp gave Berkeley Prep a 1-0 lead by scoring on a header off a Colton Hoffman throw-in in the 36th minute. A Joey Bazja header off a Lowenkron corner kick in the 63rd minute tied the match for Tampa Prep.

In the other match, CCC goalkeeper Joe Solis showed plenty of energy after the Mauraders (12-6-1) held off Tampa Catholic (10-6-3). It didnít surprise fifth-year coach Frank Seidl, who will go for his first district title at CCC.

"Any time you have a keeper that makes saves, it energizes the team because (if) you give up a goal, momentum can switch," Seidl said. "(Solis) did good. The team rebounded well (and) fought until the end. Weíre a good team."

Solis, a junior, came up big in the final 41 minutes after CCC managed a 2-0 lead on a pair of beautiful assists from junior Greg Harris. After an offsides call in the 17th minute nullified an apparent goal by Tampa Catholicís Steven Reed, the Mauraders scored twice within four minutes.

Harris initiated the first goal in the 28th minute when his 35-yard free kick from the right sideline was headed into the net by a Tampa Catholic player for an own goal.

Moments later, Harris dribbled past a Crusader and made a touch pass to senior Chris Ekonomides, who scored near the left post.

"(Harris) is a steady player," Seidl said. "Heís been a starter for every year heís been here. Heís an offensive threat (with) good skills and good speed. Other teams all know him."

Solis faced constant pressure after that only to repel most challenges. In the final minute of the first half, he made a save on a point-blank shot in front of the goal by Tony Watson. Ten minutes after intermission, Solis made a leaping save on a bouncing free kick that appeared headed toward the top of the net. Minutes later, he dove to his left to stop a blistering Mason Greif free kick headed for the goal.

"You make or break it with a keeper," Seidl said. "(Solis) saved the saves he needed to, and we just hung on as long as we could and got the victory."

Tampa Catholic finally scored in the 72nd minute on a Jacob Spengler short blast.

"I trust my defense," Solis said. "Iíve never been more excited. Ö I doní think Iíve played better."

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