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Land O'Lakes reaches final

The Royal Knights miss an early opportunity and fall in the Class 3A, District 9 semifinals to the Gators, who next play Palm Harbor.

A goal post got in the way of River Ridge's shot at one of two playoff spots up for grabs in the Class 3A, District 9 tournament.

Sarah Goldberg's shot clanged off the right post in the 13th minute of Thursday's semifinal against Land O'Lakes.

Instead of taking the early lead, the Royal Knights fell into a 2-0 hole and didn't recover in a 3-1 loss to the host Gators.

Defending state champion Palm Harbor University breezed to a 6-0 win over Ridgewood in the other semifinal, setting up tonight's 3A-9 title game against Land O'Lakes at 8.

"We had our opportunity, but we hit the post," River Ridge coach Keith Hooper said, reflecting on the importance of scoring first. "We stressed to the girls, if you have the opportunity, you need to put it away."

Casie Poyssick got that all-important first goal for Land O'Lakes (17-5-2) by tucking a shot inside the left post from the short side in the 42nd minute for her 20th goal.

Nine minutes later, Poyssick set up Stacy Bishop's 44th goal by crossing the ball from the right side toward the front of the net. Bishop collided with defender Christina Delate and goalkeeper Kat Mazzella as she lifted the ball into the center of the River Ridge net.

"On the second goal, they were knocked around in the back, and I think that deflated them," Hooper said of his players after Bishop's first goal.

With time running out, Lindsey Jones breathed life into the Knights (17-5-2).

Her 41st goal of the season came on a free kick from the right corner of the 18-yard box in the 77th minute.

River Ridge players celebrated on the bench, but they were silenced less than a minute later when Bishop scored again.

"That's the hardest game we've ever worked for," Land O'Lakes coach Vicky King said, adding that the Gators played better than they had in a 2-2 tie and 2-1 loss to River Ridge during the regular season.

Gabby Farkasfalvy's hat trick, which upped her goal total to 22, led PHU.

The Hurricanes (20-1-0) took a 4-0 halftime lead but were forced to play short-handed in the second half.

Ridgewood's Melissa Adair broke toward the net from the right side and collided with PHU's Pam Szott in the final minute of the first half.

Both players tussled on the ground and were red-carded. PHU's Jackie Kenig was issued a red card moments afterward for foul language, according to referee Joe Csizmadia.

However, the Rams (8-10-1) could not mount an attack despite the advantage.

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