Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

District soccer: Palm Harbor University 2, Steinbrenner 0

PALM HARBOR — Just 90 seconds, a small amount of time that made a big difference in Friday's Class 5A, District 7 championship game.

Palm Harbor University's offense came alive in a second-half flash as senior Beau Pearson and junior Hampton Lombard combined for a pair of goals, then the defense barred the door for a 2-0 victory over Steinbrenner.

In winning its third straight district crown, PHU (16-2, 7-0) will host Sarasota Riverview on Wednesday. Lakewood Ranch, which defeated the Rams 8-0 in the 5A-8 final, will host Steinbrenner (18-4-2, 4-3).

After 30 minutes of balanced play, the Warriors busted loose.

Deft corner kicks from junior Kiel Fleming set up Griffen Richter and Steve Soronellas on keeper Jack Gallagher's doorstep. Gallagher gobbled up Richter's 20-yard blast but saw a Soronellas cross dribble off his fingertips and behind him to Richter. PHU defender Thomas Rugel got his legs on the shot, popping the ball up and out of bounds to keep the scoresheet clean.

Gallagher (five saves) opened the second half with a superb diving stop to deny Soronellas once again, then the Hurricane attack went to work.

Closing down the left wing, Pearson fed a perfect pass to Lombard out front, and the junior chested down the ball and tucked it home in the 49th minute to put the hosts on top.

"It was a great feed from Beau," said Lombard. "He did all the work. I just tapped it in."

"(Pearson) played it right over one center back and in front of the other onto (Lombard's) chest," said Warrior head coach Chad Ebright, a former Palm Harbor resident. "Just a good play from good players."

PHU pressed for No. 2 immediately after as Pearson sent in another solid cross that got past keeper C.J. Wyatt (two saves) but was cleared by his defense. Lombard picked off the ball 15 yards out and drilled it into the open right side with 29:34 left.

"At halftime, my coaches told me to stand behind their holding midfielders so I'd have more space with the ball," Lombard said. "They'd pass me through, I'd lay it out to Bogden (Ciulei) and Beau to take down the line, cross it and all we had to do was finish."

Palm Harbor's defensive core of William Cotter, Rugel and Dan Wintermeier finished strong, denying Steinbrenner entries into the penalty area and preserving Gallagher's shutout.

"We worked hard for this win," said PHU head coach Wipoj Huse. "We stuck tight with their midfielders, put four or five guys on the ball, then played the ball to our target guy (Lombard). Our goal is to get past the region finals (after losses the last two seasons), and we still have a lot of work to do."

Lombard concluded: "We got knocked out of our own tournament. We went to the PCAC final, tied it 1-1, thought we'd win and didn't. We were disappointed, and we wanted this (win) bad to take it back to Palm Harbor U."

District soccer: Palm Harbor University 2, Steinbrenner 0 01/28/17 [Last modified: Saturday, January 28, 2017 9:27am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Gymnast McKayla Maroney alleges sexual abuse by team doctor


    Two-time Olympic medalist McKayla Maroney says she was molested for years by a former USA Gymnastics team doctor, abuse she said started in her early teens and continued for the rest of her competitive career.

    U.S. gymnast McKayla Maroney poses after completing her routine on the vault during the Artistic Gymnastic women's qualifications at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Maroney posted a statement on Twitter Oct. 18, 2017, in which she said she was molested for years by former Team USA doctor Larry Nassar. [Associated Press]
  2. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: Uncertainty surrounds Jameis Winston's health


    Greg Auman talks about the Bucs' quarterback situation, with uncertainty around Jameis Winston's health, in his latest Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Jameis Winston takes the field for warmups before the Bucs' game against the Cardinals Sunday in Glandale, Ariz. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Florida Gators' Jordan Sherit out for the year after hip surgery


    Florida Gators defensive lineman Jordan Sherit will miss the rest of the season after undergoing hip surgery earlier this week, coach Jim McElwain said Wednesday morning.

    "It's a bad deal, man," McElwain said.

  4. Rick and Tom podcast: How good is this Lightning team?

    Lightning Strikes

    The Lightning is 5-1-1 to start the season but giving up a lot of goals each game, so just how good is this team? Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break it down in their latest podcast.

    New Jersey Devils right wing Kyle Palmieri, center right, collides with Lightning goalie Peter Budaj (31) as defenseman Victor Hedman (77) and defenseman Jake Dotchin (59) help defend. [AP photo]
  5. Florida Gators, Kevin Knox get preseason SEC basketball honors


    After last year's run to the Elite Eight, the Florida Gators are one of the favorites in the SEC.