CLEARWATER — St. Petersburg Catholic and Shorecrest left no doubt as to which teams are tops in Class A, District 6. The top-seeded Barons started slowly but eventually defeated Keswick Christian 8-0. Second seed Shorecrest had little trouble with host Calvary Christian in an 8-1 win.
The Barons (15-3-1) and Chargers (13-3-1) will play for the district championship and home-field advantage in next week's region quarterfinals on Friday at 7 p.m.
For Shorecrest, Kobi Mathews, Sam Benjamin and Seif El Masry each had two goals. Mathews added two assists. The win over the Warriors avenges a 3-2 overtime loss in the district semifinal last year that ended Shorecrest's season.
"I have very good players," Shorecrest coach Milen Gaganelov said. "Calvary works very hard and they are disciplined and they never gave up. But in the end I knew we would score our goals eventually."
It took 20 minutes of the first half for Shorecrest to even get off a shot. In fact, the Chargers' first shot resulted in a goal, albeit because of a Calvary mistake. In the 20th minute, Drew Zolper hit a curling line drive from about 30 yards. The ball caromed off two Warrior defenders in the 18-yard box and into the net.
Just seven minutes later, the Chargers scored in a more traditional way. They earned a free kick from 25 yards on the left side of the field. Zolper looped a left-footer toward the far post. Benjamin ran into the box unmarked and knocked in a header from point blank range for a 2-0 lead.
Calvary Christian had only one shot in the half and that was in the final minute of play.
"It was a little bit hairy (in the first half)," Gaganelov said. "But I knew we had time. We can score goals."
The Chargers proved that in the second half. With 34 minutes left, Mathews scored his first goal by running onto a long pass and shooting from inside the 18-yard box to make it 3-0. Two minutes later, Mathews scored again on another long ball that he corralled outside the box, juked two defenders and scored on a left-footer into an open net.
The lone bright spot for the Warriors came with 16 minutes to play. Noah Nixon ran toward goal untouched and crossed to Aaron Shahriari, who redirected into an open net to make it 4-1. Any thoughts of a comeback were dashed when Shorecrest scored four unanswered goals in the final 16 minutes.
In the second game, St. Petersburg Catholic struggled in the first 20 minutes but finally figured it out. Chris Coughlin scored four goals to pace the Barons. Rich Dunn had two goals and two assists.
In the 24th minute, Liam Dougherty Howard started the scoring when he sent a corner kick into the box. Chris Mixa was at the far post and headed it in from 5 yards to give SPC a 1-0 lead.
The score stayed that way until the 36th minute. Coughlin found himself open in the box after a pass from Dunn and blasted a shot from 10 yards to make it 2-0. That was the halftime score.
Dougherty Howard and Coughlin struck again in the second half. With 36 minutes left to play, Dougherty Howard took a through ball and launched a shot from 15 yards that found the net. Four minutes later, Coughlin was free in front of the goal and toe-poked a shot from 5 yards that made it 4-0.
A flurry of four goals in the final 16 minutes, including two more from Coughlin, ended the game. The Barons outshot Keswick Christian 26-1. SPC did not allow a goal in three games against the Crusaders (11-11) this season.
"(Keswick) was playing kind of deep and compact so it was kind of difficult to get through at first," SPC coach Will Summer said. "Possession was important for us. And also, it's kind of tough to get up for these games. I wasn't real pleased with how we warmed up. We have to play with more urgency, especially against Shorecrest."