TARPON SPRINGS — Familiar style, familiar result.
Playing against the same, packed-in St. Petersburg defense it faced in a victory six weeks ago, East Lake persisted again for a 2-0 triumph in Wednesday’s Class 4A-10 semifinal.
"It played out the same way (Wednesday as that 3-1 win in December)," said Eagles coach Thurstan Johnson. "We broke them down before the (first-half) water break and then we kept putting pressure on them."
Led by the hustle of junior Andrew Disanti and the finishing touch of the brothers Carr, the top seeded Eagles (17-4-2) will host Friday’s district final against upset-minded Clearwater as the sixth seed dispatched No. 2 Seminole.
"It took a good five minutes, 10 minutes but then we finally adapted to (the defense)," said junior forward Kyle Carr. "We tried to play out wide and get our left and right backs up the field to get some crosses in."
That did the trick in the 24th minute when Youssef Morsy flagged down a throw-in on the left wing and funneled in a nice pass to senior Keegan Carr at the left post. Battling two defenders for possession, Carr tapped the ball with the outside of his right foot into the open right side of the net.
"Playing patient, intelligent ball is definitely what we’re looking to do," Johnson said. "That’s what we base our team around all season."
And all throughout the contest, Disanti was perpetually in motion up and down the right side. His zero-to-60 acceleration on an East Lake set piece set up Kyle Carr for a big insurance goal in the 49th minute.
"I would say Andrew is our most dangerous player," Johnson said. "When he gets forward, gets going full steam ahead, I don’t know if anyone can stop him."
Junior Daut Hadzijusufovic had a prime free kick from 5 yards outside of the box but rather than shoot, he fed a streaking Disanti clearing the defense. Disanti fed a perfect pass out front for Kyle Carr to tap in.
"We’ve tried that play before, but we hadn’t had success," said Kyle Carr. "It’s nice to see it work because we trained hard for that shot."
Through it all, senior keeper Kyle Karamihalis dealt with long stretches of inactivity to post the shutout, stopping three shots from the Green Devils (8-10-2), all in the first half.
And the familiarity continues in the district final against Clearwater.
"A couple of the Clearwater players are on my club team, the Clearwater Chargers," Johnson said. "The players know each other, the coaches know each other ... it should be a good one with two totally different teams (than our first game)."
East Lake won the regular-season matchup 1-0 in late November and has won nine of the past 10 times the teams have played each other.