Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Sports

District soccer: Unbeaten Newsome avoids an upset

LITHIA — Newsome trailed 1-0 at halftime, but two minutes after play resumed, Lindsey Eaton had a breakaway.

The senior managed to slip by the George Jenkins defenders, which left her one-on-one with goalkeeper Haleigh Mercer. With just about all the time she needed, Eaton aimed and shot. But just like five of Newsome's shots before it, the ball sailed over the crossbar.

As if it didn't know its own strength, Newsome (17-0) was plagued by missed opportunities throughout the 5A-6 final, largely because of shots that had too much power behind them.

But in the 52nd minute, Eaton finally delivered for the Wolves to tie the score at 1, and a Peyton Smith goal in the 77th minute gave Newsome a 2-1 win and its second district title in three years.

"It was a relief, because I made up for the one I should have scored," Eaton said about her goal, which she tapped in after a Karli Gutsche free kick. "It took a huge weight off my shoulders."

Newsome dominated the game for most of the first half, taking shot after shot. Most of them missed the mark, and the ones that didn't were saved by an aggressive Mercer.

"It was almost like a glass door was sitting on the goal," Newsome coach Kelly Townsend said. "We couldn't get in."

Jenkins (7-5-4), on the other hand, didn't need as many chances to get on the board, and they did so in the 35th minute when Chyenne Andrews got one past Newsome goalkeeper Madison Rowe, who had come out of the goal in an attempt to make the stop.

After Eaton tied it up with less than 30 minutes to play, Newsome outshot its opponent 10-4. As overtime loomed, Smith took a long shot from the left side to the opposite corner which whizzed right by a leaping Mercer for the winner.

In practice, Townsend said she makes her team pretend as if it is trailing, and the Wolves are given only a certain number of minutes to score goals. So when they had to do the real thing in the biggest game of the season so far, Townsend wasn't worried.

"It doesn't matter what the scoreboard says," she said. "It only matters when it's over."

5A-7: Plant shut out

PALM HARBOR — Palm Harbor University girls soccer is all about defense. The Hurricanes have allowed just six goals all season against some of the toughest competition in the state.

Friday's Class 5A, District 7 final was supposed to provide a test, as Plant's high-octane offense scored at least three goals in its previous seven games.

PHU didn't let the Panthers near the goal often, allowing nine shots, five on goal. But the Hurricanes offense stole some of the spotlight with five goals from different players in a 5-0 victory.

PHU (14-0-5), which secured its 17th straight playoff appearance with Thursday's semifinal victory over rival East Lake, won its 11th district title in 12 seasons and will host St. Petersburg on Thursday in the region quarterfinals.

"We've been there defensively all year," Hurricanes coach John Planamenta said. "But now the offense is starting to come around. We've created chances all season. Now we're finding ways to finish."

The lack of offense contributed to the five ties and dropped PHU to the No. 3 seed. Since the district tournament started, the Hurricanes have found ways to score 12 goals in the past three games.

Most of the scoring has been provided by Alexis Mouton, an Alabama recruit who had six of PHU's seven goals in the tournament before the final.

Friday, the scoring was distributed evenly. Alyssa Skryd started it with a goal in the 17th minute. Marisa Ruland and Shalisa Crowell also scored in the first half to give the Hurricanes a 3-0 lead.

In the second, Mouton had her seventh goal of the tournament off a high-arcing shot from 30 yards that sailed just past the keeper's arm. Aniko Zabo rounded out the scoring with a goal midway through the second half.

Bob Putnam, Times staff writer

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