Class 4A, District 4: For the second straight season, Springstead has earned a region berth.
"Everyone was excited," Eagles coach Sal Calabrese said after top-seeded Springstead's 2-1 win over host Ocala Vanguard in the semis, "but the boys have a job to do, and we're not done yet."
A district final loss at home last year to Central is still on players' minds. A win Friday vs. Lecanto would erase that disappointment.
Michael Szafranski scored first Wednesday for Springstead (17-2) with his ninth goal of the season. He chipped in the ball from close to the net after a long assist from Harrison Bennett from about 25 yards out. The Eagles had a comfortable lead going into halftime when leading scorer Matt Campbell knocked in his 25th goal. He used his chest to deflect a long free kick from Harry Prentice.
Springstead held for a majority of the second half, but Vanguard (11-11-3) made things close with about 10 minutes left in regulation, scoring on a penalty kick.
"This is a much better Vanguard team than we saw earlier this season," Calabrese said. "After playing 100 minutes (Tuesday) night, they were still very physical and surprised us with how fresh their legs were."
Class 3A, District 8: Two weeks ago, they played to a scoreless tie and brawled afterward, resulting in a number of red cards and suspension. Friday, they will meet again for a district title.
As expected, Fivay and Gulf won their semifinals Wednesday, setting up what should be a highly competitive final.
"I think it will still be intense," Fivay coach Eric Kruck said. "It's soccer. But I don't see any problems (like the last meeting). Both teams know the refs will be very quick to give out red cards."
Francisco Banos took a perfect through ball deposited it into the upper right corner midway through the second half to lift Fivay past River Ridge 1-0. It was Banos' 13th goal of the season.
The defense, missing two starters due to red cards - one from the last Gulf game and another from the game after that - held the Royal Knights scoreless and get the shutout for keeper Tyler Phillips. The Falcons' (13-7-5) region playoff game is the first for the program in just its second year of varsity play.
Gulf beat Mitchell 3-2 and is returning to regionals for the first time since 2004.
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Standout performances from Wednesday night
Kelly McCaffrey, Wiregrass Ranch: The high-scoring Bull reached the lofty 1,500-point plateau Tuesday night, and was honored for it Wednesday night, responding with 23 points and eight first-quarter steals to lead her team to a victory. "Coach gave me a great pre-game talk. It really got me pumped up," she said.
Greg Alves, Fivay: The sophomore forward and soccer team's leading scorer didn't get on the board Wednesday, but he helped Francisco Banos get there with a perfect pass for his 10th assist on the season (to go with 16 goals).
Rico Kerney and Chris Parra, Wiregrass Ranch: One of the most explosive duos we've seen in Pasco County in recent memory, they combined for 47 points, with Kerney adding 13 rebounds and Parra mixing in eight steals, in a 75-44 win over River Ridge.
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By the numbers
4 Straight goals by Land O'Lakes boys soccer team after falling behind 2-1 to Wesley Chapel at halftime
9 Straight district finals reached by the Gators (and 14 in the past 15 years)
7 Wins in the past eight games for the Wiregrass Ranch boys basketball team
526 More points scored on the season than the next closest team in its district for the Wiregrass Ranch boys basketball team
25-0 Wiregrass Ranch girls hoopsters' lead over Land O'Lakes after one quarter Wednesday night. "It was the best first quarter we've played this season," said coach John Gant.
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"Psychologically, tonight made me feel like we're real ready for it."
Wiregrass Ranch girls basketball coach John Gant, talking about his team's chances to make some noise in the upcoming district tournament
"If we don't shoot within a certain number of seconds, I get mad."
Wiregrass Ranch boys basketball coach Jeremy Calzone, on his team's high-scoring ways
Compiled by staff writer John C. Cotey and correspondent Derek J. LaRiviere.
Standout performance? Milestone achievement? Coaches are asked to call 1-800-333-7505, ext. 8123 no later than 11 each night to ensure their team is included in our roundup of memorable performances.