Speedy forwards led the charge in both of Team Hillsborough's victories at Sunday's Class of '94 Soccer Challenge, an all-star game between senior high school stars from Pinellas and Hillsborough.
On paper, the Pinellas girls looked like slight favorites, led by four all-state players. But one key player was missing _ all-time Florida scoring leader Robin Confer of Clearwater Central Catholic, who was trying out for the under-19 national team.
With Confer's absence, Pinellas lacked some of the speed and scoring punch it needed to counter Hillsborough's aggressive defense, and it lost 3-0. In the other game, a large all-state contingent led the Hillsborough boys over Pinellas 4-1.
In the girls game, Tina Brendel (Countryside), Vicki Loose (Seminole) and Thongsa Simphay (St. Petersburg) applied some pressure in the first half, but had very few serious scoring attempts.
Pinellas's best chance came when Loose had a breakaway late in the first half, but her shot was deflected off the post by goalie Sarah Shivley, a Chamberlain sophomore who subbed for Hillsborough's two injured goalies and logged five saves.
Pinellas got solid play from goalie Sara Kesler of Lakewood in the first half, but Sarah Cuni of CCC got rocked for three goals in the second.Some backfield miscommunication led to several of Hillsborough's second-half chances.
Leto's Heidi Deitiker scored just 21 seconds into the half, and Berkeley Prep's Amanda Gauthier slammed in two unassisted goals. In each case, she beat a defender and shot from the top of the box.
The boys match was stacked in Hillsborough's favor as the team featured 10 all-state players, many of whom have been together for years on the Temple Terrace Spirit under-17 team.
"That was definitely the difference," said Eric Case of East Lake, who scored Pinellas' only goal and was named the team MVP. "They played together more. We were having a lot of trouble moving the ball to the wings because they'd close down the space so quickly. They all knew where to go."
Next year, Pinellas' senior class will include Dunedin's Kevin and Brian Alvero, as well as John Jiga of East Lake and Brian Freeman of Countryside. Most of the top players in north Pinellas also play together on club teams.
On defense, Largo's Aaron Calipari and Phil Wolf played aggressively, but Hillsborough still got off 20 shots. Pinellas pulled its defenders up effectively on an offsides trap, catching Hillsborough 10 times. But the times they weren't caught, Hillsborough's quick forwards usually scored.
It could have been worse. Largo goalie Brian Ferguson was bombarded in the second half, but managed to turn away eight shots. In the first half, Dunedin goalie Keith Noel stopped a penalty kick by Bloomingdale's Kevin Varnadoe. And Leto's Mike DeGenova narrowly missed after beating Noel, only to have the ball cleared by Wolf.