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Too weak to fight, Northdale wins U-16 crown

(ran NTP edition)

Northdale Storm coach Dan Barnes bowed his head when the South Hillsborough Thunder knotted the score at 1 in last Sunday's Under-16 boys soccer championship game.

"I was hoping to God it wouldn't go to another shootout," he said at the half. "They look like a bunch of dead soldiers out there."

South Hillsborough coach Rob deVilliers concurred. "They're both whipped," he said. "Both teams are playing so flat now."

An accurate description considering both teams were coming off semifinal wins that went to shootouts after double overtimes and faced the prospect of yet another overtime.

As if a prayer had been answered, mercifully a victor emerged in the second half. Northdale outscored South Hillsborough for a 4-2 victory and the U-16 Developmental-Recreational League title.

Nick Wolding set up Tim Godshall for two goals before finishing off a pass from Chase Kearney to lift the Storm to an insurmountable 4-1 lead. Wolding lost his right shoe before receiving Kearney's pass in front of the net and kicking the ball with his left foot past Thunder goalkeeper Evan Stafford.

The Thunder took a 1-0 lead when John LaBarbera tipped in a goalmouth pass from Josh Delbridge in the 30th minute, but the Storm tied it when Godshall finished off a give-and-go with James Wright for the first of his three goals.

South Hillsborough's Jeremy Lilly closed out the scoring by dribbling in alone and booting the ball by Northdale keeper Christian Lafleur in the final minute.

The Storm easily could have gone ahead by a goal or two at halftime, but Lilly, who started in the Thunder net, made a couple of acrobatic saves to keep his team in the game. The most dramatic stop came when Lilly leaped to his right and swatted away Wright's penalty kick with his right hand.

The victory was the third for the Storm over the Thunder (12-3-2) this season. The Storm won both regular-season matches _ 4-1 and 2-0. It also ensured the Storm (14-0-1) of an unbeaten season.

"We told them that they could do it this year," Barnes said of his team's shot at playing the entire season without a loss. "That was our goal."

Northdale snapped a 3-3 tie with North Tampa in the semifinals on Wolding's game-winner in the shootout. Godshall scored twice and Paul Norton once in regulation.

South Hillsborough nipped East Pasco 3-2 in a shootout. Josh Patterson and Stafford scored in regulation with Patterson, Stafford, LaBarbera and Joey Bellinger finding the back of the net in the shootout.

SOCCER CAMP: The Bay Area Indoor Spring Break Soccer Camp is Monday through Thursday and March 31-April 3. Both indoor and outdoor fields will be used at the facility at 9450 Lazy Lane in Carrollwood.

Mike Connell, a former Tampa Bay Rowdies defender and North American Soccer League All-Star, will be on hand as a technical adviser. The guest instructors will be Curtis Steltzer and Carlos Zavala, members of the Tampa Bay Terror.

For details, call 931-2247.

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