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Region soccer preview

St. Petersburg Catholic is hoping it can count on Vita Bobelis’ scoring touch in the playoffs.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times (2008)

St. Petersburg Catholic is hoping it can count on Vita Bobelis’ scoring touch in the playoffs.

Two district final rematches, two nationally ranked squads and one newcomer highlight the girls soccer region semifinal round. Four county teams remain. All games begin at 7 tonight.

Class 5A, East Lake (14-3) at Palm Harbor University (17-1)

East Lake scored three unanswered goals off corner kicks in the final 20 minutes to rally from a 2-0 deficit against Plant. PHU recorded two shutouts to win the district tournament and blanked Hillsborough 4-0 in the region quarterfinals.

Recent history: PHU owns a 4-0 record over East Lake this season, including a 3-0 shutout in the district final. This is the third straight year the Eagles and Hurricanes have met in the playoffs. Last season, East Lake stunned PHU 3-0 in the semifinal on its way to a region title.

Scoring threats: PHU's Catherine Brinkman leads all county scorers with 30 goals. Brinkman registered two more in the district final. Tatiana Perez (19 goals) may have scored three times in East Lake's 3-2 region quarterfinal win over Plant, but Alicia Nalley (25) and Leah Fisher (21) are the Eagles' main weapons.

Class 5A, Lakewood Ranch (18-3-1) at Seminole (14-2-1)

In advancing to the region semis for the fourth straight year, Seminole shrugged off a district final loss to Osceola to post a 2-1 overtime victory on the road against Venice. Lakewood Ranch has made the region tournament the past nine seasons but has only one region semifinal victory (2006) to show for it.

Recent history: Sierra Lelii slammed home a rebound in overtime to give the Warhawks a 2-1 region semifinal win over Lakewood Ranch last year. The Warhawks and Mustangs haven't played this season.

Scoring threats: Seminole scoring leader Megan Lawrence had both goals against Venice in the region quarterfinal. Noel Forsman and Gina Hayduke have also hit double figures for scoring. Freshman forward Nikki Kerrigan had two goals to lift Lakewood Ranch over Osceola.

Class 3A, St. Petersburg Catholic (14-4-2) at Berkeley Prep (18-3-2)

The Barons are playing in the region semis for only the second time in school history. Advancing to the final would be a first. They'll have to defeat a Berkeley squad with a rich playoff history. For 10 straight seasons (1996-2005) the Buccaneers never missed the playoffs, finishing as a state semifinalist three times during that stretch. Clearwater Central Catholic knocked the Buccaneers out of the playoffs in last year's region semifinal.

Recent history: A little more than a week ago, Berkeley scored twice in the second half to defeat SPC for the district title. In their lone regular-season matchup in November, the Bucs prevailed 1-0.

Scoring threats: Vita Bobelis has been a sure-fire scorer all season for SPC and had two goals in the Barons' region quarterfinal win over Bishop Verot. Berkeley sophomore Taylor Richardson (27 goals) may have the team lead but Taylor Bayte terrorized the Barons with two goals in the district final.

Class 2A, Tampa Prep (15-3-2) at Indian Rocks Christian (14-6)

IRC reached uncharted territory with its first playoff victory, a 4-3 region quarterfinal win over Bishop McLaughlin. Tampa Prep is the defending Class 2A state champion and returns a significant portion of its team from a year ago.

Recent history: The Terrapins have knocked the Golden Eagles out of the playoffs the past three seasons. This meeting is their first in the region semis. The Terrapins defeated the Golden Eagles 4-1 during the regular season.

Scoring threats: Since the district tournament began, IRC's Jensen Eifert has scored six goals in three games; Tampa Prep freshman forward Colby Maffei replaces Chelsea Klotz as the Terrapins' go-to scorer. Taylor Richardson had a hat trick in a region quarterfinal win over Shorecrest.

Region soccer preview 02/03/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 3, 2009 12:22am]
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