TAMPA - Bloomingdale coach Steve Houle reached deep into his bag of tricks in the Class 4A, Region III title game against Gaither Tuesday and pulled out a surprise. It not only surprised Gaither, but it assured the Bulls a spot in the 4A Section II championship game against Sarasota tonight at 7 p.m. at Bloomingdale High School
Houle knew the Cowboys' All-America goalkeeper Jeremy Graeber had great quickness and reacted to the ball very well. So he worked on a play to drive the ball into the corner of the Gaither 18-yard box before crossing the ball to the opposite post.
The play worked to perfection, allowing David Allen to score a goal and give Bloomingdale a 1-0 win.
"We worked on that play for about an hour at practice (Monday)," Houle said. "We wanted to do something a little different, something that Gaither hadn't seen us do before. And that is something we don't normally do."
Houle won't have that luxury against Sarasota because the two teams haven't played this year.
"I know nothing about Sarasota," Houle said. "And I'm sure they don't know much about us. Sometimes you can call other coaches and find out a little about the team but I haven't even been able to do that. We'll just have to go out and play our game the best we can."
The Bulls (18-2) will be riding a 10-game winning streak into tonight's contest. Of Bloomingdale's 18 wins, 16 have been by shutout.
Sarasota (16-2-2) has a balanced scoring attack and a strong defense. Goalkeeper Danny Burko, one of just two Puma All-Americas in Florida, has allowed just 15 goals in the Sharks 20 games.
Burko, who will play in goal for the Florida Youth Team, has 10 shutouts and 83 saves this year.
Sarasota's offensive attack is led by Brian Leaver (seven goals, eight assists), Chris Brown (six goals, three assists) and Raul Puente (five goals, two assists).