TAMPA — Since squandering a 3-0 lead to Jesuit before holding on for a 4-3 victory two weeks ago, Tampa Prep coach Doug Smith has been preaching the importance of finishing games.
The undefeated Terrapins heeded the advice Wednesday to win 4-2 against East Lake, but not without a few tense moments.
Tampa Prep built leads of 2-0 and 3-1 in the first half before putting away the Eagles with its fourth goal 60 minutes into the match.
"The guys did their job," Smith said. "Our focus tonight was just to keep the win. It wasn't pretty, but we had to keep the win."
Tampa Prep (5-0) scored two goals on the counterattack in the first 12 minutes for a 2-0 lead.
Senior forward Aaron Burrell ran onto a long pass and, one on one with East Lake goalkeeper Jason Richmond, converted to put the Terrapins ahead five minutes in.
Wes Sever scored moments later after another ball played over the top of the East Lake defense hit the speedy forward in stride, and Sever blasted an open look past Richmond.
East Lake got a goal back after Brett Hummel's shot from 25 yards deflected into goal, but the Terrapins responded when Alex Politis squeezed the ball through a crowded penalty into goal off a corner kick.
The Eagles (6-1-2) controlled possession over the final 20 minutes of the first half. Anthony Giordano scored with eight minutes left on a give-and-go from Hummel to make it 3-2 at halftime.
East Lake continued to build toward an equalizer in the second half, but the Eagles' Brian Gonzalez was red-carded after tackling Burrell.
Less than a minute later, Sever scored his second goal.