SEMINOLE — Seminole pulled a last-second victory out of a hostile environment and wet playing field Tuesday, defeating Osceola 3-2 to advance to Friday's region finals. The Warhawks trailed by two goals with 12 minutes left to play and scored the go-ahead goal as the game announcer started the 10-second countdown.
"It's all about belief," Seminole coach Gary Kolb said. "We just kept believing in our ability to do it together."
Sarah Reinhold found Tegan Payne at the net and Payne re-directed it into the net with five seconds left.
"I couldn't hear the crowd, I couldn't hear my teammates, all I could hear was the announcer counting the seconds, "seven, six,"' Payne said.
With six minutes left in the first half, Osceola's Samantha Pifer chipped the ball to Cassidy Reich, who lifted it over the keeper for the first score. In the last two minutes, Warriors keeper Kristina Kulavic, who had seven saves in the first half, stopped a big Seminole push.
Osceola scored again 10 minutes into the second half as Reich set up Pifer with a shot that she banged off the far post and in for a 2-0 lead.
With 12 minutes left, Gabrielle John played what looked like a cross from the right but it richocheted off the keeper and in for Seminole's first goal. Just a minute later, Olivia Red sent a cross into the box that found Brandy Maulucci, who banged it into the net to tie it at 2-2.
5A: PHU reaches final
PALM HARBOR — Alexis Mouton's postseason scoring tear continued, as she broke open a goalless game with 22:30 left and Palm Harbor University defeated Manatee 2-0. PHU (16-0-5) returns to the region final after a two-year hiatus and will host Lakeland George Jenkins on Friday night.
Mouton's younger sister Kayla scored with nine minutes left. Both received the ball on their non-favored left foot.
"When it came to me I got nervous," Alexis said. "All I could think was 'What if I miss?' because I'm not good with my left."
She has nine goals since the start of the district tournament after scoring only once all regular season. The Alabama commit's goal Tuesday came as a result of constant PHU pressure, resulting in a failed clearance.
Kayla Mouton's putaway score was a thing of beauty, as she changed directions three times while as many Manatee defenders tried to stop her.
"I had to cut it back one last time, to get it on my right foot," she said. "Manatee was a good team."
But Rachel Taylor easily snagged a last-second long ball to secure the shutout. The visitors (15-5-2) were coming off of their first playoff win since 1999.
Mackenzie Geier headed off two of Manatee's best second-half advances. The back line of Geier, Sarah Raymond, Quinn Lombard and Christina Cesta seemed to be in the right position all night.
"It's easy to be confident when you have the players I have around me," Geier said. "We are so well prepared by Coach (John Planamenta). When you practice hard you play hard."
Darek Sharp, Times correspondent