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Pasco, Hernando cruise into 3A-6 championship

Pasco and Hernando posted shutouts in Wednesday's Class 3A, District 6 semifinals at W.F. Edwards Stadium.

That sent the top-seeded Pirates to their second straight state playoff and gave them a shot at their first district title. Pasco hosts No. 2 Hernando in Friday's final at 7 p.m.

"It would mean a lot, especially since it's my first year here," Pasco coach Wardell Powell said of winning a district title.

Jami Pass and Whitney Vance had hat tricks in leading the Pirates to a 6-0 victory against Nature Coast. That followed Hernando's 8-0 defeat of Wildwood on the strength of two goals by Lisa Babcock and Danielle Coopman.

Pasco (13-6-1) led 1-0 before breaking open a close game with five second-half goals, three by Pass. Pass could have added to her Pasco County-leading 42 goals, but she hit the crossbar once and post twice.

Vance opened the scoring by converting a cross from Pass and tucking the ball into the upper-right corner in the 33rd minute. Vance scored the last two goals of the game, completing a hat trick with her 10th goal in the 77th minute.

Powell said Pass and Vance stepped up to compensate for the loss of Rosala Velasquez, who sat out the second of a two-game suspension due to a red card. Velasquez, who has 15 goals, is expected to return Friday.

"I told (Vance) with Rosala not being there, we were counting on her to break out and do well," Powell said. "I'm happy for her."

Hernando coach Kristi Mule said her team is looking forward to a third game against Pasco. The Pirates have beaten the Leopards 3-1 and 6-0 this season.

Jessica Brown's goal in the 67th minute ended Hernando's victory by the mercy rule.

Hernando (10-8-2) took a 3-0 halftime lead on goals by Coopman, Katie Pitts and Jennifer Rook. Shauna Allen also scored for the Leopards.

4A-9: Springstead, Leesburg

advance with one-goal victories

LEESBURG _ Springstead practiced penalty kicks in the moments before its game against Central, believing a defensive struggle was forthcoming.

The Eagles were on the right track.

The 4A-9 semifinal was not for weak players nor fans of scoring opportunities as Springstead prevailed 1-0 in a physical slugfest that saw just seven total shots.

Leesburg won the second semifinal 2-1 over Citrus, setting up a Friday final between the top seeds.

Springstead (16-2-4), the No. 1 seed, had its prolific offense bottled up by the Bears, save for one breakaway five minutes into the second half. Senior Megan Allen started it with a pass to Angela Passafaro, who got a sliver of separation from Central's Melissa Carbaugh and released a left-footed shot from 15 yards.

Goalkeeper Kim Brown dived but could not prevent it from reaching the left corner of the net. Central (12-8-4) could not respond.

"It seems like we were one bounce away a lot," Central coach Hank Deslaurier said. "We played the best game we were capable of playing."

Leesburg (14-8-3) managed more opportunities in its semifinal, converting one in the 31st minute to put Citrus behind for good. Haley McCabe passed to Sara Williams, who got a breakaway. She beat keeper Ashley Christensen, who came out of the box to challenge the shot.

The Yellow Jackets added another goal five minutes into the second half. Williams started the play with a front-flip throw-in from the right side, launching the ball all the way to the front of the net. Holly Cauthen finished, her shot bouncing in after Christensen got a hand on it.

With 9:20 left, Citrus (11-5-5) cut the lead in half off a header by Rebecca Gemble, finishing a free kick by Marcy Mills.

The Hurricanes played the final minutes at a frenzied pace but could not tie it.

"(Leesburg's) very fast and very athletic," Citrus coach Tracy Buettner said. "We never gave up. I was very proud of them."

_ JOHN SCHWARB

4A-10: Bulldogs upset Rams,

will face Spongers in final

TARPON SPRINGS _ Zephyrhills defeated No. 2 seed Ridgewood 1-0, and No. 1 Tarpon Springs defeated Hudson 8-0 to reach the 4A-10 final.

Allie Beasman scored the lone goal and Samantha Smith made 10 saves in the first semifinal, the Bulldogs' third game against Ridgewood (10-8-1) this season and only victory

Nicole Smith kept the Rams in the game with a penalty kick save, one of 13 saves, before Beasman, who leads the team in assists, scored the winner.

"(Beasman) told me it was an ugly goal," said Janet Heyman, who coached the Bulldogs to their last district championship in 2000. "(Wednesday), she kind of set her mind, though. If she had an open look, she would shoot."

Defending district champions Tarpon Springs (14-3) advanced after making quick work of Hudson (3-14-3). Ashley Jeffris scored two goals 10 minutes into the game then assisted on Brandi Bianco's goal 15 minutes later.

The Spongers added one more in the first half, leading 4-0 at halftime.

"It was hard, like a permanent headache," said Tarpon's Libby Gianeskis of the cold conditions. "But I think we are unbeatable as long as we play up to par."

Tarpon Springs returns nine starters from last season's state semifinal team and faces Zephyrhills (7-9-1) for the third time, having beaten it both times previously.

"We have to keep it in perspective," coach John Freiermuth said. "It's four more games.

"You can't talk about the state finals without having to play these next four games."

_ ERIC MUSKATEVC

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