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Buccaneers continue turnaround

Winning a game, let alone a tournament, has been an uphill battle for Gulf and Wesley Chapel in recent years.

History appears to be changing for both squads.

On Thursday, Wesley Chapel and Gulf met in the final of the Wildcat Winter Soccer Classic with the visiting Buccaneers prevailing 4-3 on penalty kicks.

Wesley Chapel and Gulf entered this season a combined 18-96-6 for the previous three seasons.

"It was absolutely thrilling," Wesley Chapel coach Jamie Finan said. "It was a great game and a great team to play. I'm sure we'll see them in districts."

With their three wins in the tournament, the Buccaneers (6-8-2) have equaled their season win total from the 2001-02 season _ and this is coming on the heels of a one-win campaign last season and a winless season in 2002-03.

"It was great for our confidence," Gulf coach Shari Schau said.

Land O'Lakes also played a winter tourney, going 1-2 in the Sailor Classic at Sarasota. The Gators (12-2) entered that event unbeaten.

In the Wildcat final, Wesley Chapel's Ashley Soria and Janessa Gunn traded goals with Gulf's Alicia Roddenberg and Courtney McAuliffe for a tie at 2 in regulation.

The outcome, after two 10-minute sudden-death overtimes, came down to penalty kicks. Amanda Gardner and Courtney Cohen converted for Gulf with Meagan Cipolla scoring Wesley Chapel's goal.

Tournament most valuable player Devin Fellman, a freshman, also had a hand in the Bucs' title. In her first action after missing three games due to a back injury, Fellman made three saves on Wesley Chapel penalty kicks.

"Devin was the difference," Schau said. "She showed a lot of poise. The back help up okay."

Four junior varsity callups also had a hand in Gulf's 3-1 tourney mark that included a 1-0 loss to Wesley Chapel in an earlier round. Katherine Naclerio had a goal with Nicole Linville and Magan Wilson adding an assist. Megan Wright did not score, but like the other JV callups, played in each game.

"The JV kids really did a nice job," Schau said. "At first they were a little nervous, but once they understood the pace (at the varsity level) is a little faster they were able to stay with it."

Hudson lost its first three tournament games, but earned its first win of the season in the consolation game. Ashley Schuering and Amber Young scored in a 2-0 defeat of Armwood.

Finan, who entered her team in Hillsborough County winter tournaments the previous two seasons before organizing an event at home, plans to host another one next season. She also hopes to increase the field from four teams to at least eight.

"Playing is better than practicing," Finan said. "The girls had a lot of fun and its a good experience."