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Spartans' spell broken for sure

On Saturday, the Saint Leo men's soccer team snapped a 16-game winless streak against Tampa with a 1-0 win.

It took just three more days for the Lions to beat the Spartans again.

In the opening round of the inaugural Sunshine State Conference tournament Tuesday, Saint Leo rallied from a 2-1 second-half deficit for a 3-2 win over Tampa. That ended the Spartans' season and advanced the Lions to Friday's semifinal against Lynn, the nation's top-ranked team in Division II, in Boca Raton.

"Hopefully, now we're going to start a streak; 16 games or whatever," said Saint Leo goalkeeper Matias Perez, who manned the nets in both wins against Tampa.

"The history (of Saint Leo-Tampa) has been great games and they always manage to have the trump card," Saint Leo coach Fran Reidy said. "This time, we made the big play when we had to make the big play."

That play was the winning goal by Brandon Jones, a freshman forward who came off the bench and roofed his first goal over the head of Tampa goalkeeper Bob Luckenbaugh in the 87th minute.

"They thought they were going to come in and beat us," said Jones, who converted a cross from the left wing from John Semeraro. "It was neat to end their season."

Saint Leo (8-9-3) took a 1-0 lead on Asmir Pervan's seventh goal, but Roy Fink scored twice to stake Tampa (9-7-3) to a 2-1 lead. Pervan set up Titou Fierro's third goal in the 77th minute to forge a tie at 2.

"Our depth took its toll," on Tampa, Reidy said, alluding to seven backups he inserted at various intervals.

Included in that mix were Jones, Semeraro, Fierro and Gus Kalathakis (Ridgewood), who hit two posts.

Saint Leo's Robert Pollock, right, tries to beat Tampa's Daniel Balzan to a header. Pollock, a Hudson High graduate, is one of three players from Pasco County high schools on the Lions roster. Saint Leo, which had lost 16 straight meetings with Tampa as of last week, won twice over the Spartans in four days.