PALM HARBOR — On Monday, Lakewood coach Rob Bauer said his team was "very excited" for a rematch with Mitchell a year after the Mustangs defeated the Spartans in last year's Hurricane Watch.
Unfortunately for Bauer and the rest of the Spartans, Lakewood will have to wait one more season for another crack at Mitchell.
Bryan Oliveros' rebound goal with 30 minutes left was enough to lift the Mustangs past Lakewood 1-0 on the final day of group play Wednesday.
With Lakewood's loss, Palm Harbor University finishes as the Group A winner and slides into Friday's championship game, where it will face East Lake at 8 p.m.
"We had our opportunities this year. You can't ask for anything more than that," Bauer said. "It just didn't bounce our way tonight."
Lakewood (8-3-2) sent a number of shots off the post or just over the crossbar. And when the Spartans were on target, Mitchell goalkeeper Robbie Wallace was ready with the save. The junior had eight stops, seven in the second half.
"We gave up some shots we shouldn't have," Wallace said. "But it's my job to stay composed back there.
Mitchell's goal came against the run of play after halftime. The Mustangs' David Vasquez sent a shot on target that was pushed away by a diving, one-handed save from Reujuan Farrell (five saves). The rebound caromed directly to Oliveros, who simply had to tap the ball into the open goal.
The win snaps a five-game losing skid for Mitchell (7-10), which will play Countryside at 6 p.m. Friday in the third-place game.
East Lake 3, Northeast 1: Behind two penalty kick goals, East Lake took care of Northeast to finish play in Group B a perfect 2-0.
For the first time in the tenure of coach Sergei Stopek, the Eagles will play for the Hurricane Watch title.
"This is very exciting for us," Stopek said. "We're doing a lot of firsts this year, winning the Puma Challenge and now with a chance to win the Hurricane Watch."
Brett Hummel scored early to stake East Lake (14-0-4) to a 1-0 lead. Right before the first water break, the Eagles' Xavier Gonzalez was tackled in the penalty box, leading to Josh Gonzalez's penalty kick conversion for a 2-0 advantage.
Six minutes later, Northeast's Tyler Tisdale found the back of the net to send the Vikings into halftime trailing 2-1.