St. Petersburg Catholic proved its 2-1 win over Seminole in girls soccer was no fluke. The Barons reached the final of the elite bracket at the Sarasota Holiday Tournament last weekend, winning three straight games before losing the championship to Plant 1-0 in a penalty kick shootout (5 to 3).
Quite a turnaround for a team that failed to win a game at the same tournament the previous two seasons.
"We're clicking right now," SPC coach Gary Kolb said.
Including the victory over Seminole, the Barons enter the winter break having played five quality opponents in three days, beating four of them.
Leading scorer Kelsey Doughtery-Howard notched the only goal in a tourney-opening win over Bloomingdale. Casey McKeon sparked a 1-0 win over 6A Miami Lourdes with a goal and scored two more in a 2-0 shutout of Newsome.
In four tournament games, the Barons defense built a brick wall in front of goalkeeper Maggie Dalessio and didn't allow a score, a stretch of 340 minutes without a goal including two overtime periods against Plant.
Dalessio stopped 18 total shots.
"It was good competition this year," Kolb said. "We handled ourselves pretty well."
SALKICIC EARNS NATIONAL TEAM NOD: Lakewood defender Tarik Salkicic has been selected to the U.S. Men's Under-17 National Soccer Team.
Salkicic, a member of St. Petersburg's Strictly Soccer club team, made his national team debut this month against Portugal at the Nike International Friendlies in Phoenix and played all 90 minutes of the United States' 2-1 loss.
He started the next day against Brazil but was subbed in the 33rd minute after a collision opened a gash in his head and forced him to the sidelines.
Salkicic is the fifth player from Strictly Soccer to make the U.S. Men's National Team.
"This is a guy that loves to grind it out in practice day in and day out," Strictly Soccer executive director Hans Burt said. "If you practice four times a day, Tarik wants to practice five times."
Salkicic will enter the U.S. Soccer U-17 Residency Program next month on the campus of the IMG Academy in Bradenton, where he will be working to earn a spot among the starting 11 for the U-17 World Cup in Mexico in 2011.
"What's exciting for us is he's been with us for eight years, from the beginning to the end," Burt said. "When you talk in terms of a team that will eventually be 20, 22 kids from the entire country, it's just such a rare thing."
COUGARS PRESS ON: Countryside had the top showing of any local team this week at the prestigious High School Invitational boys soccer tournament at the Ed Radice Sports Complex in Tampa despite the absence of head coach David Sica and starting midfielder Nikolai Hammer, who are serving six-week suspensions.
After winning its group, Countryside opened up a 3-0 lead on Palm Harbor University in the first-place pool quarterfinals and won 4-2. The Cougars fell 2-0 in the semifinals to nationally ranked New Orleans Jesuit.
Sica, who is appealing the suspensions, was hopeful the FHSAA might review the appeals this week, but he and Hammer remain in limbo.