Thursday, February 22, 2018
Sports

Girls soccer roundup: Two late goals propel Seminole

PLANT CITY — Seminole faced its biggest kick of the season, and no one knew who should take it.

As Sarah Reinhold and Brianna Froncillo stood over a free kick with two minutes left in a tie game against Plant City, each asked the other if she wanted it. Coach Gary Kolb finally made the decision for them.

"I took it," Froncillo said, "and it happened to sneak through."

Froncillo's goal capped a frantic final six minutes and pushed the Warhawks into the Class 4A region semifinals with a 3-2 win. The victory avenged last season's playoff loss to the Raiders (18-3).

"We tried to hang with them the whole game," Plant City coach Caleb Roberts said, "and we were six minutes short."

The Warhawks (21-3-1) looked ready to run away with a win after Amanda Walker knocked in a first-half corner kick while the Raiders struggled to get a shot.

Plant City rallied in the second half, scoring on a breakaway by Stephanie Galloway and pulling ahead on a header by Jennifer Ruiz with six minutes left.

"We definitely had to restart and get back into our mojo," Seminole's Teagan Payne said.

Seminole got back into it with Payne, a secret-weapon freshman who played only six minutes but made one of the night's biggest plays. She headed in a Froncillo corner kick with four minutes left to tie the game.

Two minutes later, a Plant City foul set up the pivotal free kick from far outside the box that led to the discussion between Reinhold and Froncillo. The Warhawks decided on their standout junior.

Froncillo rocketed a shot that scraped the top of the wall of defenders before settling into the back of the net.

"I don't know how it managed to get through," Froncillo said."

Class 4A

Osceola 3, East Bay 0: Osceola, which made the 3A state semifinals the past two seasons, has moved up to 4A. It did not prove to be much of a deterrent in last week's district tournament, where the Warriors knocked off top-seeded Seminole for the title.

A week later, the Warriors had to guard against complacency and looking ahead to a rematch when they faced East Bay. But after a slow start, the hosts bore down and finished their chances.

"Here we go with another battle against Seminole," Osceola coach Anatol Popovich said. "But we had to get past a very good East Bay team to do that."

The Indians relied on an aggressive defense to limit chances in the first half. But in the final minute of the first half, Gabby Holcombe scored what turned out to be the winner.

"We applied pressure, but we weren't finishing our chances," Popovich said. "East Bay really bunkered down defensively. Still, I figured we were in good shape because we played a controlled game and did open things up in the second half."

Sam Pifer added to the lead midway through the second half with goal into an open net.

"It was hard at the start of the game," Pifer said. "But we were able to settle down. And once we got those first few goals, it gave us the cushion we needed."

Courtney Smith rounded out the scoring off an assist by Pifer.

PHU 3, St. Petersburg 1: The host Hurricanes took a step toward shaking a region roadblock. They have lost to East Lake in the region semifinals the past two seasons. This time in the region semifinals, they face Bradenton Manatee.

"We've been finishing really well," PHU's Katie Im said.

Im nearly scored in the first minute then assisted on Alexis Mouton's goal in the second.

The Hurricanes sent 15 shots on goal to the Green Devils' three. But St. Petersburg almost tied it when forward Shaura Washington dribbled in one-on-one with keeper Rachel Taylor before pushing a shot wide.

In the second half, Kayla Mouton found sister Alexis to make it 2-0. The Green Devils hung around and got Washington's penalty kick to make it 2-1.

But with 24 minutes left, Im got free on the left side, beat a defender and lobbed a shot over keeper Theresa Kuduk's head. It was Im's first goal since reconstructive knee surgery.

"I think mentally, it was harder (coming back from the knee injury)," Im said. "We've got a great team, and we're getting confident."

Times staff writer Bob Putnam and correspondent Andy Warrener contributed to this report.

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