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Middleburg ousts Pirates

The Pirates circled at midfield, arm in arm for a pep talk to start the second half of Friday's state semifinal at Lockhart Stadium.

That emotional strategy, however, failed to rejuvenate Pasco in a 5-2 loss to Middleburg that ended the best season in school history.

"We just tried to get psyched; to get our heads on straight and not get down," said Garibaldi Alejandre, who scored his 27th goal in the seventh minute to give Pasco a 1-0 lead.

The Pirates (24-2-1) set single-school records for wins, as well as unbeaten (18 games) and win (nine) streaks this season in qualifying for their first state berth.

None of that seemed to matter much to the Pirates, who milled around with forlorn looks afterward.

"I think the faces say it all, right there," Pasco coach Barry Grayling said. "We're disappointed, but my job right now is to get this team back up and get them ready for next year."

Jose Montelongo, Pasco County's scoring leader and single-season recordholder, scored his 44th goal in the 59th minute to pull the Pirates within 3-2.

Roberto Cervantes brought the ball down the left side and crossed it to Montelongo near the right post. The defense converged and the ball squirted out to the top of the penalty box, where Alejandre sent it back to Montelongo, who deflected it high into the middle of the net.

That was as close as Pasco would come as Michael McDonald completed his hat trick in the 70th minute by looping the ball over Pasco goalkeeper Luis Hernandez for a 4-2 lead.

Middleburg's Brent O'Keefe added a goal in the 76th minute to account for the final margin.

Hernandez also got beat by McDonald, who has 20 goals, on two breakaways in which he came out of the net.

"It was kind of hard," Hernandez said of trying to stop McDonald, who missed the region final after suffering a concussion and broken teeth in a region semifinal. "If I stayed back he still would have had a shot on me."

Pasco trailed 2-1 at the break, having blown a 1-0 lead, and the deficit might have been greater if not for a point-blank stop by Hernandez on McDonald in the penalty box. McDonald's first goal tied it at 1. Cody Spanbauer scored the go-ahead goal in the 26th minute.

Moments after McDonald's second goal in the 43rd minute made it 4-2, Montelongo had a chance to pull the Pirates within one. Montelongo blasted the ball chest high from 20 yards out on a free kick, but Middleburg keeper Michael Gibbs raised both hands and fell backward to keep the ball out of the net.

"I was just going to try to blast it in there," Montelongo said. "I hit it straight."

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