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Lecanto chases district crown

Being the No. 1 seed in the Class 2A, District 8 soccer tournament does not necessarily make Lecanto the favorite in tonight's final against Berkeley Prep.

Just ask Lecanto coach Kevin Towne.

"Seedings are a little bit deceiving," Towne said Thursday. "We're happy to be there, but we believe that the whole district was a tough district this year. We knew going into the tournament that we were going to have to beat two quality teams. We've beaten one, and now we have to beat another."

Lecanto earned that No.1 seed by virtue of overall win percentage. The Panthers' 14-3-1 mark was slightly better than host Berkeley Prep's 14-4-2, despite the Buccaneers' No.1 state ranking.

Berkeley Prep dropped to No.2 in the state poll after consecutive season-ending losses to No.6 Lakeland-Santa Fe Catholic and No.2 Clearwater Central Catholic. (CCC has since moved into the No. 1 spot.)

Unranked Lecanto looks forward to tonight's finals as an opportunity to improve its standing in the state's soccer community.

"I feel that Lecanto was left out of the rankings somewhere along the line," Towne said. "We've had a successful season two years in a row and gotten no consideration for the state poll. We're going to have to prove ourselves. Maybe if we have a good showing again against Berkeley Prep, we'll open some eyes."

Lecanto beat fourth-seeded Tampa Catholic 1-0 in the opening round on Tuesday. Second-seeded Berkeley Prep advanced with a 3-0 win over No.3 Crystal River.

Tonight's winner advances to the Region IV match Tuesday against the District 7 winner _ Mulberry or Lakeland-Santa Fe , still the state's sixth-ranked team.

"Our goal this season was to get to the district finals," Towne said. "Now we have to set new goals. We want to be competitive and play the best game we can play."

Tonight's game

Who: Lecanto (15-3-1) at No.2 Berkeley Prep (15-4-2)

When: Today, 7 p.m.

Where: Berkeley Prep High School, Tampa.

What's at stake: Winner advances to the Class 2A, Region IV match on Tuesday.

Admission: $3.