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TERRAPINS' THIRD STATE TITLE JUST AS SWEET

Clutching the Class 2A championship trophy after his team's 3-0 win over Jacksonville Providence on Saturday, Tampa Prep senior Ryan Griffin, who once told teammates he hoped to win four state titles, seemed content with the fact his prediction was a bit off target.

He will graduate with only three.

"You know," Griffin said, smiling, "three's not bad."

It most certainly isn't.

Behind the play of tournament MVP Wes Sever, Griffin and a host of others, Tampa Prep claimed its third title in four years and joined the 2005 and 2007 squads as the only in program history to bring home a championship.

"It's always fun, always special because we have a different mix of guys every year," Terrapins coach Jose DaCosta said.

Saturday's performance was, in a word, dominant. From the outset, Tampa Prep (27-2-2) looked like the better team. The Terrapins were faster, stronger, sharper.

Offensively, they created scoring opportunity after scoring opportunity. On defense, they held the Stallions (19-7-2) without a shot on goal for the first 57 minutes and to only two for the match.

Despite all of that, Tampa Prep, thanks to Sever's 13th-minute goal, led only 1-0 at the half.

Was there concern? Sure.

Panic? No way.

"We were determined to win this game," Sever said.

That was evident in the final 40 minutes. Playing at an even higher level than it did in the first half, Tampa Prep turned a close game into a rout.

In the 61st minute, Terrapins keeper Brad Sienkiewicz fired the ball downfield after making a save. Sever grabbed it and passed to Anthony Baumann, who gave it right back as Sever knocked in a shot for a 2-0 lead.

"That was huge," Baumann said. "They were gaining confidence, but that (score) shut them down."

Tampa Prep didn't stop attacking.

Twelve minutes later, Griffin blasted in a 25-yard free kick, which ended the suspense. Soon after, the Terrapins collected their trophy, something they've gotten used to doing.

"It feels great to go out on top again," Griffin said.

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