ST. PETERSBURG — The boys and girls soccer games in Class 5A, District 8 have been so tight this season the only thing left is the skin under one's nails.
On Tuesday, it was Countryside and St. Petersburg that squared off in a girls-boys doubleheader. And after both games, not much was settled.
Each ended in a tie.
In the girls game, Christina Mendoza came off the bench and connected on a shot from 25 yards to help the Green Devils rally and salvage a 2-2 tie.
"I put Christina in as a sub and she really came through," St. Petersburg coach Rui Farias said.
The Green Devils are 1-0-3 with all three ties coming against district opponents.
The Cougar boys rallied as Nick Day scored with four minutes remaining in regulation.
"I think we were too defensive-minded at the start of the game," Countryside coach Dave Sica said. "We were finally able to get that offensive thrust at the end."
St. Petersburg dictated the pace in the first half and took the lead when Hunter Loyden nailed a shot just inside the top right corner of the goal past Cougars goalkeeper Danny George.
"It was a great game and a terrific shot by Hunter that put us ahead," Farias said. "I thought in the first half we were pretty dominant. Then in the second, Countryside turned it on and it seemed like the clock couldn't run fast enough."
The Cougars (4-2-2) squandered some scoring opportunities in the second half, the biggest on Ryan Carter's hard shot which ricocheted off the crossbar midway through the half.
In the final two minutes, the Green Devils (1-1-2) tried to push the tempo but didn't get any shots on goal.
"We might have let up a little in the second half, but I really didn't expect us to play this well so soon," Farias said. "We're starting to come together and we have our keeper now (Sean Covington) who was kicking for the football team the first few games."
Countryside, which advanced to the state semifinals last season, is in rebuilding mode after losing some key starters to graduation. On Tuesday, the Cougars were missing some players who were out with injuries and another who had a club soccer commitment.
"The big thing I liked is we kept fighting tonight," Sica said.