Sometimes it's skill, sometimes it's luck. For Tampa Prep goalkeeper Yousef Ghabour on Tuesday it was both.
Ghabour made two crucial saves during penalty kicks to seal the Terrapins' 3-2 Class 1A-Region 2 boys soccer quarterfinal victory against host Bradenton St. Stephen's.
Tampa Prep (15-4-1) won the shootout with goals by Jordan Hayes, Zack Hebert, Macsen Pritchard and Michael Spezza. But it was saves by Ghabour on St. Stephen's first two attempts that paved the way.
"I just stare them down," Ghabour said. "Then it just depends on whether I guessed right."
On the first St. Stephen's shot, there wasn't much guessing as the shot hit Ghabour directly in the chest. The second one was trickier as Ghabour slid right and was able to get a foot on the shot and kick it away from the goal.
St. Stephen's (17-3-1) was able to make its next two shots but when Spezza's shot went in the net, the game was over.
St. Stephen's took a 2-0 first half lead, despite being outshot by the Terrapins, 14-7.
"That's been the story of our season," Tampa Prep coach Doug Smith said. "We were playing real well between the 18s but we were getting unlucky at the top and unlucky in the box."
Tampa Prep cut the lead to 2-1 in the 45th minute on a breakaway by Hayes and tied the score in the 59th minute on a header by Oscar Skjaerpe off a corner kick by Spezza.
"We dominated the game," Smith said. "We deserved to win."
The Terrapins outshot St. Stephen's 33-16 through 100 minutes.
5A-2: Ferrin's goal in PKs lifts Wharton
It only took two overtimes and 19 penalty kicks before Wharton's Joseph Ferrin put an end to everything.
Ferrin, on Wharton's 10th penalty kick attempt, hit it low and hard to beat goalkeeper Danny George for the game-winner to lift Wharton to a 1-0 win against Countryside in the Class 5A-Region 2 quarterfinals.
"Pretty suspenseful," Ferrin said. "I knew where it was going, and I hit it right where I wanted to."
Countryside was all but dead in the initial stages of penalty kicks, missing its first two while Wharton converted its first two. The Cougars, however, made their next three, while Wharton missed two of its final three in the first round. The teams then went back-and-forth until Ferrin's heroics.
Each defense didn't allow the opposing offense any good looks on goal for the majority of the game.
"There were few chances for both teams, but it was good defense overall," Ferrin said.
5A-2: Bloomingdale is shut out
Palm Harbor's Robert Sennabaum scored on a penalty kick to give the Hurricanes the only goal they would need in a 2-0 victory against Bloomingdale in a Class 5A-Region 2 quarterfinal.
Kiril Dimov's goal with 5 minutes remaining iced the game for Palm Harbor.
The game was scoreless at the half. In the second half, Palm Harbor pressured the Bulls and the result led to most of the second half being played on the Bloomingdale side of the field.
Bloomingdale only had three shots on goal in each half compared to Palm Harbor's 14.
4A-2: Barrett scores a pair to pace Gaither
Gaither survived a sluggish first half and senior forward Paul Barrett scored two goals in the second half as the Cowboys beat visiting Eagle Lake Lake Region, 3-1, in a Class 4A-Region 2 quarterfinal.
"We played about as bad as we could play in the first half, but bounced back," said Gaither (18-4-1) coach Eric Sims, whose team played to a 1-1 tie in the first half. "I didn't have a specific message at halftime, but somebody had to step up. We dominated the second half."
Jonas Bukh gave Gaither a 1-0 lead before Lake Region tied it, 1-1. Barrett then took a pass from Bukh and scored from just inside 18 yards at the 52-minute mark.
"I knew I was messing up and had to show up," said Barrett, who also scored from 18 yards out on an assist from Bukh with just under 7 minutes left in the second half to give Gaither a 3-1 lead. "I had to show my team I could do it."
Brent Moore scored the only Eagle Lake (16-5-3) goal on an assist from Jacob Kalogridis at the 29-minute mark.
4A-2: Jenkins tops Freedom, 3-1
Freedom came up short in its bid to advance in a 3-1 Class 4A-Region 2 quarterfinal loss to Lakeland Jenkins.
The Patriots took an early lead on Jett Wright's breakaway goal. However, Jenkins tied it on a score from Sean Whalen just before the half and added on two goals late in the game.
Both teams battled evenly throughout the second half until Jon Ibanez scored on a loose ball in front of the Freedom net. Robert Morrell iced it in the final minute to advance the Eagles.
Freedom coach Dennis Derflinger will lose five seniors, but said he appreciated his team's effort.
"We played hard and that's all I asked them to do,'' Derflinger said. "I needed 80 minutes of intensity and I got it.''
Nathan Brown was solid in goal for the Patriots, making seven saves after Jenkins upped the pressure in the second half.
4A-3: Clearwater tops Plant City on PKs
Clearwater rallied from a 3-0 deficit to upset Plant City, 5-4 (3-1 in penalty kicks), in a Class 4A-Region 3 quarterfinal.
Two minutes into the game, Cameron Roberts blasted a shot over the right shoulder of Clearwater goal keeper Devohn Howard-Dublin to give the Raiders (14-3-1) a 1-0 advantage. Less than 2 minutes later, Gerson Herrera split two defenders and scored. Roberts' shot with 24 minutes left before half rolled through Howard-Dublin's legs and the rout looked like it was on.
"We got complacent at 3-0 and gave up a bad goal," said Plant City coach Chris Black. "They scored to make it 3-1 at the half and that gave them a little bit of hope. We didn't finish them off."
Tony Alvarez scored on a header off a throw in before the half. Alvarez scored with eight minutes left in the game off a cross from Donovan Price to give Clearwater (8-7-1) a 4-3 lead. Price and Austin Powell added goals for the Tornadoes.
However, Roberts converted a penalty kick, his 43rd goal of the season, just before the end of regulation to send the game into overtime.
In penalty kicks, two of Plant City's attempts sailed wide and Howard-Dublin made a save going to his left to send Clearwater to the victory.
4A-3: Strawberry Crest ousted
The first boys soccer region tournament appearance ended quickly for Strawberry Crest. Yann Cerf recorded a hat trick and Seminole scored five goals during the first 17 minutes of the second half en route to a 7-0 Class 4A-Region 3 quarterfinal victory.
Despite most of the action taking place in its half of the field, Seminole held a 19-9 shot advantage, Strawberry Crest (7-7-3) trailed just 1-0 at the half.
"We made too many mistakes against a good team, but we thought we could play with them even after the half," said Strawberry Crest coach Scott Vomacka. "Then they got two quick goals and you could see our players deflate."
3A-2: Spencer leads Sunlake
From the start Sunlake dominated, taking an easy 4-1 win against Gulf in the 3A-2 region quarterfinals and setting up a rematch with in-town foe Land O' Lakes, whom the Seahawks (17-6-3) will host Friday in the region semifinal.
"I'm going to be counting down the minutes until Friday night," said Sunlake freshman Connor Spencer, who with his two-goal performance Tuesday, no has 20 goals this season. "Whenever we play, it's always a good game between us, and even though it's just my first year playing soccer (at Sunlake), I can tell it's some kind of rivalry."
Sunlake scored early, getting a goal from Jared Landry on a cross from Connor Gilboy in the 8th minute. Spencer scored his first goal at the 23rd minute, then Gilboy scored his 27th goal this season just a minute into the second half.
"I just wanted us to keep attacking, but I thought our finishing was a little off," said Sunlake coach Sam Koleduk, who guided the Seahawks to a region final last season. "Gilboy had about nine one on ones, but just one goal."
Gulf (9-10-3) didn't manage a shot until the second half, but finally got on board in the 61st minute when Jason Perez scored. Spencer added his second goal in the 77th minute, when keeper Kevin Thompson misplayed a clear.
Sunlake outshot Gulf 17-4, which in encouraging facing the Gators for the fourth time this season, however, Land O' Lakes has a 2-1 edge, despite the Seahawks 3-2 win in the district championship Friday.
"As always," Koleduk said with a smile, "it's going to be a great game."
3A-2: LOL shuts out Fivay, 4-0
Land O' Lakes will be meeting Sunlake for a fourth time this season, as the Gators pounded Fivay, 4-0, in a Class 3A-Region 2 quarterfinal.
"Well I'm hoping we'll be up for this game and we have some incentive to come out there and play well," Land O' Lakes coach Mark Pearson said of going up against Sunlake.
Against Fivay, Land O' Lakes dominated, outshooting Fivay, 18-0, in the first half. The Gators struck in the 14th minute as Andrew Garcia took a Nathan Dalton pass and placed it in the back of the net for a 1-0 lead. Dalton scored two goals in the final 9 minutes before intermission to give Land O' Lakes a 3-0 advantage.
Dalton added one more goal in the 42nd minute. The Gators ended the game outshooting the Falcons, 30-2.
"Terrific playmaker and he's been doing it all year," Pearson said of Dalton's hat-trick.
3A-3: Jesuit defeats Dunedin, 4-0
A year after falling in the region quarterfinals, Jesuit erased the memory with a 4-0 victory to advance to the Class 3A-Region 3 semifinals.
Although Jesuit controlled much of the first half, a relentless Dunedin kept the deficit to one.
In the second half, a Brett Durrance goal 6 minutes into the period was followed by a Joseph Metzger goal 10 minutes later putting the game out of reach for Dunedin.
"We're going to need every bit of tonight's intensity to carry over to our next game,'' Jesuit Coach Bob Bauman said. "We're not ready to stop playing yet."
3A-3: Leto's dream season ends
For a group making its first state region playoff appearance, matching up against the 2009 and 2010 Class 4A state semifinalist in the first round was probably the worst scenario imaginable.
Leto's dream season ended in a flash as the more experienced Tigers eliminated the Falcons in the Class 3A-Region 3 quarterfinals, 4-1.
Last season, Leto (9-5-3) won one game. Tuesday night was the Falcons' first region playoff game since 2009.
"I told them I don't think we were beat by a better team, but we were beaten by a more experience team," Leto coach Aaron Killips said.
Raul Loera scored twice for Palmetto (16-5-5) while Tyler Lawrence and Gregorio Calvillo each added a goal to give the Tigers a 4-0 lead. Ryan Estivo helped Leto avoid the shutout with his goal in the second half.
2A-3: Harvey's goals lift Berkeley
Kevin Harvey scored three goals to help Berkeley Prep defeat Frostproof, 5-1, in a Class 2A-Region 3 quarterfinal.
Since the first round of districts, Berkeley (16-7-2) has outscored its three opponents, 15-1, seven of those goals coming from Harvey.
Harvey, who has a team-high 26 goals and 12 assists, started the scoring in the fourth minute by drilling a 15-yarder into the net's right side. Harvey made it 2-0 a few minutes later with some nifty dribbling past a few defenders.
The other goals were scored by Dan Felman, who assisted Harvey on two goals.