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Girls soccer: Wharton gets another shot at Palm Harbor University

Published Feb. 7, 2018

BRADENTON — Wharton scored in the final minute to upend host Manatee, its 2-1 comeback win in Tuesday's Class 5A region quarterfinal setting up another region semifinal match against nemesis Palm Harbor University.

The Wildcats (15-3-1) advance to the second round of regionals for the fourth time in school history and are out to avenge three losses to Palm Harbor University in that round.

"Either way it's going to be a good team," Wharton coach Denis Vukorep said before knowing the outcome of Palm Harbor U.'s 1-0 win over Lakewood Ranch. "But we beat a good team today."

Manatee, a district champion, carried play for most of the game, outshooting Wharton 19-11 and hitting the crossbar three times. But the Wildcats got stellar goalkeeping from Caroline Delisle to stay in contention until Alisha Deschenes scored her team-leading 16th goal of the season on a rebound in the 79th minute.

"We've got a good keeper," Vukorep said. "We make no apologies. We're going to play this way. We're going to counter. We're not able to play pretty. We've got to play gritty and tough."

On the winning goal, Sydney Hubbard stole the ball near the top right corner of the penalty box and dribbled down the right side before sending a crossing pass swatted away by Manatee keeper Emma Moneuse. But Deschenes quickly pounced on the rebound and kicked the ball into the open left corner.

"I just figured I might as well kick it in there, because Alisha and Sydney (Vickers) were in the box and someone was going to get to it," said Hubbard, who tied the score earlier on a penalty kick.

"Once I saw Sydney (Hubbard) going down the side I knew the cross was coming," Deschenes said. "I just tried to get to the far post as fast as I could and it came right to me."

Manatee (13-3-3) took a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute when Molly Setsma converted a cross from Julia Murdoch, tucking the ball inside the far left post and off the outstretched hand of Delisle. The senior keeper would not allow another shot get past her, thanks in part to the Hurricanes clanking the ball off the crossbar three times.

"The post is a goalie's best friend," Delisle said.

The Wildcats tied it at 1 in the 57th minute when Hubbard was pulled down from behind as she attempted to break free of a defender in the box. She banked in a shot off the right post for her 13th goal of the season.

Steve Lee, Times correspondent

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