There were many players St. Petersburg coach Ron Henkel could cite as key contributors in Wednesday's Class 3A, District 11 battle against Seminole, but he said the semifinal game belonged to goalkeeper Sky Reisinger.
Reisinger made 18 saves in a scoreless regulation and four, 5-minute overtime periods. BUt he saved his best for last. In the shootout he stopped four shots, including the final one, to preserve the Green Devils' 4-3 victory.
"This was a great defensive match and everybody hustled," Henkel said. "I'd say the game's got to go to Sky tonight. He stopped a ton of shots and, when you do that, that can kind of demoralize another team."
The Warhawks (17-5-1) were around the net most of the game and took 21 shots, only to be stonewalled by Reisinger. That gave St. Petersburg (14-7-1) the momentum it needed once the game went into penalty kicks. Trey Bourgeois scored the winner.
Seminole lost two of its final three games in shootouts and it finished one win from breaking the school record for victories in a season.
St. Petersburg plays Clearwater in the final Friday night at 7.
The Tornadoes advanced with a 4-1 victory over Pinellas Park. Billy Callaghan had a hat trick and Steve Goodrow scored the other goal for Clearwater (13-7-1).
"This is pretty much what we expected tonight," Tornadoes coach Steve Lindsay said. "Our biggest goal was to play up our ability, which we did. The final, though, could be scary. St. Petersburg knows how to keep games close and win. This is not a team I'm looking forward to playing."
2A-10: Lakewood, Osceola win
LARGO _ Lakewood jumped to a 2-0 first half lead and added another goal early in the second on their way to a 4-1 win over Tarpon Springs in the first game. The win sends the Spartans into Friday's final against Osceola.
The Warriors put away enough of their quality chances to beat Largo 3-0.
Lakewood got on the board 14 minutes in when Brett Norris sent Chris Brown in alone from just inside midfield. Brown put the ball past Sponger goalie George Palaidis inside the left post and Lakewood was on its way.
"It went the way we hoped it would go, we picked it up a lot from our last game," Lakewood coach Rich Jantz said. "(Tarpon Springs) picked it up and then we picked it up another notch. I'm definitely happy heading into Friday."
Norris scored later for Lakewood, as did Justin Wood and Jabe Breland.
Tarpon Springs got on the board via a cross from sophomore Mike Palazzolo to freshman Sean Bergren, who headed it in.
In the second game, Murray Willingham fed Luis Nieto for Osceola's first-half goal.
Nieto padded the lead with his second goal 10 minutes into the second half and Willingham scores again with 18 minutes left.
_ TIM SWEENEY
A-9: Shorecrest, CCC stifle their opposition
ST. PETERSBURG _ Defense was key in both semifinal games.
Shorecrest defeated host St. Petersburg Catholic 2-0 in the early game, and Clearwater Central Catholic beat Keswick Christian 5-1 in the nightcap.
Shorecrest's strong defense helped it defeat the Barons by keeping the ball away from Shorecrest goalkeeper Michael Williams.
Shorecrest scored both of its goals in the first half, with Sundeep Nath scoring on an assist from Joe Fontana, and Brandon Bayless took advantage of Baron goalkeeper Greg Simpson being out of position for his goal.
Keeping with the trend of the evening, CCC held Keswick to only three shots on goal, including one in the first half.
After Jake Johnson scored early, the Marauders waited until midway through the second half before striking again. Dave Miller made it 2-0 and Matt Malinosky scored twice in less than two minutes. With four minutes remaining, Patrick Beliveau scored CCC's final goal.
Phil Caldwell scored Keswick's only goal.
"It doesn't matter (who we play). We'll just have to win the final," Shorecrest coach Richard Berhelot. "We have one of the better defenses in the county, and we look forward to playing Friday."
_ CHARLES CARDWELL