TARPON SPRINGS — At 5-9-2, Tarpon Springs doesn't have the most intimidating record. But the Spongers do have their first district championship since 1997 after a 2-0 win over Dunedin in the Class 3A, District 10 final.
Ali Tajik scored both first-half goals for the Spongers, both assisted by Diogo Rodrigues. Tarpon Springs hosts Bradenton Southeast Thursday night in the regional quarterfinals. Dunedin will play at Jesuit.
"It's been forever around here," Rodrigues said. "I'm a senior so it's extra special. I'm leaving the school with my name in the trophy case. I can come back to reunions and see my picture in there. It's great."
Tarpon Springs played most of the game in its offensive zone. In the first minute, Rodrigues looped a shot from 30 yards that hit the crossbar. After a few more near misses, the Spongers struck twice in a two-minute span.
The first goal came in the 26th minute. Rodrigues dribbled to the right corner and crossed a ball about five yards in front of the goal. Tajik redirected the ball into the open net.
"It was something we've been working on in practice," Rodrigues said. "We want to play like a real team and pass it to each other, cross it in and see what happens."
The second goal came in the 28th minute. Rodrigues had a long throw in from the right side that landed in the 18-yard box. After a few bounces, Tajik was there to put the ball in the net.
"It ricocheted around and I just knocked it in," Tajik said.
Dunedin (4-10-2) turned up the pressure in the second half but could not find the net. Tarpon Springs goalkeeper Vasili Makryllos made two big saves to keep the shutout.
"We had a few chances to put them away but couldn't do it," said Tarpon Springs coach Kevin Sugar, who played for the Spongers 1991 district championship team. "(Dunedin) didn't just lay down. They played us very tough."
Berkeley Prep 1, CCC 0: In the end, the Ice Man had the answer.
Senior midfielder Quinton Kauchick came through as underdog Berkeley Prep edged Clearwater Central Catholic in St. Petersburg.
With two minutes left in the first half, Kauchick outpositioned standout freshman defender Matt Dunn in the box and took a hard shot to the back going for a header. His reward for the pain was a foul and a penalty kick. Kauchick calmly beat Marauders goalkeeper Dominic Grchan.
CCC (9-7-4) got a glimmer of hope when the Bucs (8-9-4) drew a red card and had to play shorthanded for 23 minutes. But only in the final minute did CCC challenge thanks to a fierce, hustling Berkeley defense.
Shorecrest 3, Indian Rocks Christian 1: The Chargers won the two regular-season matchups and continued their physical style, dropping the Golden Eagles to claim the district title at Calvary Christian.
Shorecrest's aggressive style was successful even if it pushed the confines of good sportsmanship. The Chargers (20-2-1) were whistled for 13 fouls to IRC's seven, and the Chargers racked up five yellow cards — including one for their sideline. The skill, however, was there and on full display for the first Charger goal. Midfielder Chris Lovesky got the steal from an attacking Golden Eagle and sent a deep ball streaking into the IRC half where teammate Kalju Jake Nekvasil caught up to it and buried it far post.
"I took the first step, took the ball around the defender and then I saw KJ downfield," Lovesky said. "He scores on everything."
Lovesky did not understate it as Nekvasil scored again on a feed from Lovesky to make it 2-0. Taylor DeGeare nailed a 20-yard shot to put the Chargers up 3-0. IRC (11-9-1) got on the board when Tyler Margan hit one from just inside the 18.
Times correspondents Chuck Frye and Andy Warrener contributed to this report.