ST. PETERSBURG — Back in December, after Seminole gave up three second-half goals in a loss to Northeast, Warhawks coach Rick Masi said, "It's not how you play in December, it's how you play in January."
Those words proved prophetic Wednesday.
Trailing by two goals with 21 minutes left in the Class 4A, District 10 tournament semifinals, Seminole (13-7-1) scored three times in 12 minutes to defeat Northeast 3-2. The win secures the Warhawks' 15th straight appearance in the region tournament and it sets up Friday's final at Palmetto.
"I feel badly for Northeast because I would not want to lose a game like this," said Masi, who is in his 21st season at Seminole. "I've lost two like that this year (against Northeast and St. Petersburg). It's nice to win one."
For most of the night it looked as if Seminole's season would end early. Despite spending most of the first half in the Northeast zone, the Warhawks trailed 1-0 at halftime.
Northeast (11-6-2) went up 2-0 on goals from Bryan Combs and Stevie Rudderham.
That gave Seminole a sense of urgency. Just seconds later, Paul Gyorkos scored from the top of the box to make it 2-1.
"I had the easy part," Gyorkos said. "I was just hanging out back post and had an open net to shoot into."
The second goal came 10 minutes later when Seminole took a free kick from 25 yards. Andrew Goodman placed it into the upper-left corner.
"It was on line from the start," Goodman said. "We had to get it done. The urgency was there for us because it was on the line."
And two minutes after that, Thomas Whiting buried a shot from 10 yards out that went past a cluster of players.
"Garrett (Connell) just slid a pass in to me and I happened to put it where the keeper wasn't," Whiting said. "I was just trying to put it on target. I didn't feel like I struck it too sweetly, but when luck is on your side it goes in."
In the other 4A-10 semifinal, Osceola scored in the first six minutes but failed to hold on against Palmetto, falling 4-1.
Jake Luff scored for the Warriors, but Palmetto came back with two first-half goals.
It didn't help Osceola that Luff received a red card for a hard foul and was ejected. Osceola (11-5-3) was already playing without two starters, Caulin Donaldson (injury) and Taylor Abulone (flu).
"But that's not an excuse," Osceola coach Al Sousa said. "You have to get it done whoever is out there. This is a very tough place to play, but our guys gave them a tough game."
3A-10: Tarpon Springs (4-9-2) pulled away a dominant second half and beat Lakewood (3-10-1) 4-1 to advance to the Class 3A, District 10 final on Friday.
The Spongers will face Dunedin (4-9-2), which beat Largo (5-9-1) 3-2 in two overtimes on a goal by Marco Kirolos.
Tarpon Spring's key weapon was Diogo Rodrigues, whose propeled throw-ins deep into the Spartans end. His first throw found Kosta Pseftelis at the far post, where he converted.
The Spartans' Cameron Ray banged a shot off keeper Vasili Makryllos and put the ricochet in to tie it.
But before the half, another Rodrigues throw-in found Peter Kouskoutis for a 2-1 lead, and it was all Spongers after that.
"One hundred percent pressure to the ball, that's how we've played all season, we don't let the other team think," Kouskoutis said.
In the second match, Dunedin's Owen Miklinski played a corner kick into the box with under a minute to play to set up Kirolos' winner.
"I felt it before we even took that corner (kick) that I was going to get that goal, then when I saw the ball coming in I just jumped and put my head on it," Kirolos said.
2A-9: Clearwater Central Catholic and Tampa Prep played through regulation and one overtime period without a score.
It appeared another overtime period would expire without a goal, threatening to extend the Class 2A, District 9 semifinal as far as it could go: to the drama of penalty kicks.
But the Marauders avoided that scenario when Kevin Harris scored with 16 seconds left for a 1-0 victory that propeled CCC (8-6-4) to Friday's championship against Berkeley Prep.
The Bucs (6-10-5) advanced with a 1-0 win over host St. Petersburg Catholic.
"It was the best feeling in the world," Harris said of his winning goal. "I've had clutch shots before, but nothing like this. We were down a man for most of the overtime, and were trying everything possible to make sure we didn't go to penalty kicks."
Harris had the opportunity thanks to keeper Dominic Girchan, who made several spectacular saves in the final two minutes.
"Those saves by Dominic gave us all the momentum we needed," Harris said. "We were energized, because without him we wouldn't have the opportunity to win."
The Marauders have made a habit of coming up with last-minute plays to either tie or win.
"We knew that if we continued to press, good things would happen," CCC coach Frank Seidl said. "We got a good result."
The second semifinal was nearly identical to the first, with both teams failing to score until late. With three minutes left, Berkeley Prep's Will Sibson scored the winner.
"I was in the very back, just waiting for the ball," Sibson said. "When it came to me, I put it in with all that I had. It was a big play for us."
Times staff writer Bob Putnam and correspondent Andy Warrener contributed to this report.