PALM HARBOR — Alexis Mouton sprained her ankle two weeks ago in Palm Harbor University's season opener against St. Petersburg. On Tuesday, she made her first appearance since the injury and played a pivotal role in a 5A-7 match against Steinbrenner.
Locked in a scoreless tie in the second half, Mouton watched as a cross bounced off a Steinbrenner player before ricocheting off a Hurricane teammate. The ball eventually landed in front of Mouton, who tapped it in just beyond the reach of the goalkeeper in what turned out to be the winning goal in a 1-0 PHU victory.
"The ball just bounced and bounced and bounced," Mouton said. "Finally, it came to me, and I had enough instinct to toe-poke and just got enough to get it through the net."
Mouton's return helped ignite an offense that hasn't produced many chances this season and kept the Hurricanes atop the district standings with her unorthodox goal.
"We still would like to get more quality chances, but we'll take a goal any way we can get it," PHU coach John Planamenta said.
The Hurricanes' defense, which has allowed just one goal all season, continued to be stifling. Better still, it came against a high-powered offense that gave keeper Rachel Taylor more work than she's accustomed to.
"It was a little nerve-racking because there were definitely some spurts of tough play," Taylor said. "I was able to make a couple of saves, but I love that pressure. It was good to have this kind of game where not everything was easy-breezy."
Both teams are in a brutal district that includes East Lake and Plant.
"We knew this wasn't going to be easy," Planamenta said. "None of them are in this district. To hold a team like that scoreless says a lot about our defense."
In the boys game, Steinbrenner rallied to beat the Hurricanes 3-2.
PHU started well as Kieran McGeough and Jacob Harris scored to give the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead midway through the first half.
Soon after, Steinbrenner started to find its rhythm offensively. Blake Wilson and Andreas Saenz had goals to help tie the game.
Wilson scored the winner with about 10 minutes left in regulation.