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Devils and Marauders enter state final four

The St. Petersburg High boys soccer team Friday night advanced to thestate final four for the first time, beating West Palm Beach-Wellington 3-0.

The Class 3A, Section III championship featured full-speed soccer by the Green Devils (20-4-2). The Wolverines (16-8-1) tried unsuccessfully to match the furious pace.

St. Petersburg's first shot began a steady attack in which 14 attempts were created. Wellington's shot total came to only five.

Green Devils goalkeeper David Masi kept the shutout intact.

In the attack, Matt Mustoe provided a goal and an assist to pace the Green Devils, who scored two goals in a 22 second span in the first half. Brandon Hale, who chipped in an assist on Luis Pizano's goal took charge of the midfield. Rivers Guthrie and Justin DeStoppelaire (also scoring) pressured the Wolverine defense all night.

"I couldn't say enough about all of them," St. Petersburg coach Andy Hale said of his team. "They've been playing together since they were freshman." Hale was especially pleased with Masi's play. "He played phenomenally tonight."

In front of Masi were outstanding defenders. Aksone Phetsodasack, Mark Jennings, and Richard Painterkept Wellington scoring threats in check. Don Songbandith also prevented any danger from the left wing.

Class 2A, Section II: Defending Class 2A state champion Clearwater Central Catholic routed host North Palm Beach-Benjamin 7-0 in 2A-Section II action.

CCC (26-1-3) enters the state final four to play Section II winner Florida Air Academy (Melbourne), which beat Tampa Catholic 2-1 on penalty kicks.

Forward Doug Martin opened the scoring at 21 minutes with a direct free kick that ripped through the back of the net. Soon after, Brian Nugent's blast was saved by Benjamin goalkeeper Ryan Hearrell, but a defender inadvertently scored an own goal.

Benjamin was able to survive the first half, allowing only two scores, as Hearrell guessed right on Marauder Scott Ford's penalty kick.

Off sides kept stalling CCC's attack, but in the second half, Brian Sirasusa's goal at 58 minutes was followed by an onslaught.

Martin, John Lannon, Shawn Daily, and Chris Kovack rounded out the scoring, which came on 24 shots. Kovack's tally at 74 minutes was impressive. The midfielder took Daily's pass from midfield, burned two defenders and slipped a shot past Hearrell.

"We wanted to win it for Chris Riley," defender Todd Drum said.

Riley left the match in the first half with a possible toe fracture and may miss the state tournament.

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