PALM HARBOR— As the only game scheduled between rivals Palm Harbor University and East Lake, Friday's match between the boys soccer powerhouses morphed into what, at times, could be described as a turf war.
Tripping, arm grabbing, shirt pulling, forearm shivers, tackles that would make Dick Butkus proud, all were on display as the Hurricanes and Eagles played to a 2-2 draw.
"I know a couple football coaches around here that would like to see tackling like that," PHU coach Alex Delgado said. "We knew how it was going to be. It's unfortunate we don't get to see each other that much. It's a great rivalry. Both teams wanted to prove a point."
About the only thing missing from Friday's match was the occasional flying elbow off the top rope.
"Extremely physical, almost too physical," East Lake coach Sergei Stopek said. "I'm proud of my kids for showing a lot of restraint, but at the same token, we've got to do better than that as far as keeping our poise and composure and letting our soccer do the talking."
East Lake (1-0-1) went ahead five minutes into the second half when Nick Patterson curled a shot from an impossible angle near the end line over the head of PHU goalkeeper Joshua Paul and into the top corner of the goal.
The Eagles grabbed control of the game at that point, and Patterson's goal seemed it might hold up as the winner until a loose ball in the box caromed straight to PHU's Ben Sweat who one-timed a shot into goal with 22 minutes for a 2-2 draw.
The Hurricanes (1-0-1) went ahead 1-0 with 5:40 left in the first half on Vincent Esposito's goal, but the Eagles answered right before the halftime whistle when Matthew Kimball found an open Patterson on the back post and Patterson finished.
Girls: Palm Harbor U. 2, East Lake 0
In the early match between the Eagles and Hurricanes girls teams, PHU won 2-0 behind a pair of goals from senior Catherine Brinkman.
Brinkman put the Hurricanes (2-0) ahead 1-0 10 minutes in after sending a laser into the top right corner of goal from 25 yards out.
Brinkman iced the game with two minutes remaining after finding herself unmarked in front of the net and calmly slotting Kelly Phipps' pass past East Lake goalkeeper Alicia Aldridge.
Though they were outplayed for a majority of the first half and parts of the second, the Eagles (2-2) had a handful of opportunities to come out with a draw. East Lake scored late in the first half but the goal was disallowed because the ball crossed the end line prior to going in.
In the second half, the Eagles' Madison Del Duca found herself alone with the ball and only the goalkeeper in front of her, but Del Duca's shot was slowed down by the fingertips of PHU goalie Nikki Brewer and a Hurricanes defender was able to clear the ball before reaching the goal.
"We went to a 3-4-3 in the second half and had some opportunities," East Lake coach John Orr said. "We just didn't finish."
The Hurricanes' back line kept East Lake in check all night. Any time an East Lake attacker had a sliver of daylight in front of goal, a PHU defender was there to close out and dispossess.
"The girls in the back, if they made a mistake, they worked hard to recover," PHU coach John Planamenta said. "The back line was unbelievable tonight."