LUTZ — Steinbrenner continued its shooting gallery playoff run by running up four goals Friday on Ocala Forest.
Only this time it took two overtime periods and Forest matched Steinbrenner’s scoring frenzy step-for-step until the final three minutes of the second overtime, when senior captain Derek Gebhard cleaned up a ball played into the box by senior Enrique Barboto. The Warriors’ golden goal earned them a 4-3 victory and a spot in the Class 4A state final, their first state finals appearance.
“When he (Barboto) hit it I was thinking, ‘Where did it go?’ ” Gebhard said. “Then it landed right on my thigh and I knew I had a chance to play it short and I finished it.”
It was an unbelievable finish to a game in an unbelievable playoff run for the Warriors that has seen them score 20 goals in four games.
“We’re just a strong, attacking team,” senior captain Jason Collister said. “We feel like if any team can do it (win a state title), it’s us.”
The Warriors seemed to pick up where they left off Tuesday, coming out and pressing the action. Early shot attempts were either thwarted by Wildcat goalkeeper Lex Craggs (11 saves) or went wide or high.
“Their goalkeeper and defense were phenomenal,” Warriors coach Chad Ebright said. “They won a lot of games 1-0 so you knew they had good defense.”
After falling behind 1-0, the shots started to fall for Steinbrenner. In the ninth minute of the first half, Collister knocked in a Blake Wilson header from a Barboto free kick that tied the game. Three minutes later, Wilson penetrated deep into Wildcat territory and passed it off to junior Austin Labban, who pounded it far post to go up 2-1. Barely a minute later, Collister got on a solo fastbreak through the Wildcats’ back line and was one-on-one with the keeper. Craggs had no chance as Collister knocked it in to put the Warriors up 3-1.
Nine minutes into the second half it was 3-2 Warriors. Forest’s Jesse Nieman stepped up his game and in the 12th minute battled through three Steinbrenner defenders, tipped the ball up to himself and pounded it far post.
The first regulation expired in a 3-3 tie.
Steinbrenner committed 30 fouls and received three yellow cards to Forests 16 fouls and two yellow cards. The Warriors out-shot the Wildcats 20-6. A foul and a shot set up the winner.
With three minutes left before heading to penalty kicks, Labban was fouled hard by Sebastian Del Rio. Del Rio received a yellow card and Steinbrenner received a free kick from about 25 yards. Barboto played the kick right into the keeper’s box and hit two other players before it landed on Gebhard’s thigh. Gebhard wasted no time kicking it into the back of the net.
A: Douidar connects in OT for Tampa Prep
TAMPA — With every errant touch, each mistimed pass and countless wasted opportunities, the frustration mounted for Tampa Prep in its Class A state semifinal against Orangewood Christian.
The Terrapins looked comfortable in the first half, shaky in the second and despondent after the Rams equalized with 20 minutes remaining.
In one moment of overtime brilliance, however, that dissatisfaction disappeared.
In the third minute (83rd overall) of extra time, Tampa Prep junior Michael Spezza sent a long pass ahead to Shaddy Douidar that bounced off the head of a Rams defender and right into Douidar’s path. With the ball inside the box and nearing the goal line, Douidar, seemingly out of room, found a sliver of space between Orangewood goalkeeper Ben Overbeek and the near post and squeezed a left-footed shot through it for the winning goal in Tampa Prep’s 2-1 overtime victory.
“I thought about taking it with my right, but he gave me my left and I just took a chance,” Douidar said. “He was expecting me to go far post. He gave me the front post and I took it. Great ball by Michael.”
Tampa Prep (24-1-3), the defending Class A champion, will play for its sixth state title next Friday.
“I didn’t think (Douidar) had the angle,” Tampa Prep coach Doug Smith said. “When he cut to the outside, I was almost turning away. … I don’t know how he put that in, but it was unbelievable.”
The first half had the makings of a runaway with Tampa Prep controlling much of the possession. The Terrapins scored first, connecting in the 27th minute when Douidar crossed into the box from the left wing, Thomas Vanegmond one-touched a pass to the back post and Harrison Horton finished past Overbeek.
Orangewood (18-6-1) dug in, keeping more possession in the second half and gaining confidence. The Rams were rewarded in the 60th minute when Jake Stone pounced on a loose ball in front of the net and sent a deflected shot into goal.
“That kind of jolted us a little bit,” Smith said.
Orangewood outshot Tampa Prep 6-1 in the second half, but the Terrapins regrouped in overtime to continue on to the state title game, where they have never lost.
Berkeley falls in 2A semis: At Miami, Berkeley Prep’s quest for a second consecutive berth in the Class 2A state final ended with a 3-0 loss to Gulliver Prep (19-2-3).
The Buccaneers (16-11-2), who scored 11 goals in three previous playoff contests, watched their offense wilt against a technically sound side that pressured relentlessly.
“We struggled to get any kind of possession and our offense was non-existent,” Buccaneers coach Tim Cooper said. “One of the best teams I have seen this year.”
Staff writer Joey Knight and correspondent Bryan Burns contributed to this report.