TAMPA — Tampa Prep and Academy of the Holy Names survived the semifinals of Wednesday’s Class 2A-District 9 girls soccer tournament — but it was anything but easy.
In the evening’s first match, Tampa Prep played 80 minutes of regulation and more than 18 minutes of overtime before Darla Harrison finally broke left and found herself at the top of the box one-on-one with the keeper. From there, Harrison said she “just passed it” into the right corner of the net to seal a 1-0 victory against Clearwater Central Catholic.
It was an ending that brought relief for Tampa Prep, which had controlled the majority of the match but had failed to score on several solid opportunities, including one shot that glanced off the crossbar.
“We absolutely didn’t want to go to penalty kicks (if the second overtime ended in a tie),” Tampa Prep coach Cindy Schofield said. “(CCC) has a great keeper and anything could have happened.”
Tampa Prep (9-8-1) moves onto Friday’s district final against Academy, which defeated Berkeley in another hard-fought match that also ended 1-0.
Academy got its scoring out of the way in the game’s first two minutes when Julia Lester broke free on the right side and buried a bullet into the right side of the net.
Academy (15-1) had several shots narrowly miss the rest of the way and fought off a furious Berkeley rally in the final 40 minutes.
During the regular season, Academy and Tampa Prep met one time, but it was more than two months ago, on Nov. 12 when the Jaguars took a 3-1 victory.
“The good news is that we won and we get to move on in the playoffs (win or lose in Friday’s championship game),” Schofield said. “I expect a great match on Friday.”
Sunlake, Land O’ Lakes cruise into 3A-8 final
ZEPHYRHILLS — Six players scored goals as Sunlake (16-3-3) dispatched Wesley Chapel, 6-1, to advance to the 3A-District 8 final.
In order to clinch the program’s first district title and host a first-round matchup in the regional tournament, the Seahawks will need to find a way to get past nemesis Land O’ Lakes.
The Gators (22-1), who finished district play undefeated during the regular season, got a hat trick from Brooke Silvest to crush River Ridge (10-10) via the mercy rule, 8-0, in the earlier semifinal.
Sunlake has never defeated its in-city rival, going 0-8-4 against Land O’ Lakes (including a 2-0 loss to the Gators in the 3A-7 final last year). None of this is lost on coach Jami Finan, who is proud of her young team but knows what her girls are up against.
“Land O’ Lakes has a history, a confidence of knowing how to win and what it takes to play in the postseason,” said the third-year coach, “On Friday, we need to give maximum effort and not be overwhelmed by the thought of playing the Gators.”
Higher seeds Hudson, NCT advance in 3A-7
BROOKSVILLE — After three days and seven matches, the Class 3A-District 7 girls soccer tournament at Nature Coast Technical featured no surprises.
In Wednesday’s semifinals, the status quo held serve again.
Top-seeded Hudson (21-4-1), led by senior striker Dominique Cirnigliaro’s hat trick, eliminated No. 4 seed Springstead (13-5-2), 4-1.
Cirnigliaro, who entered with 53 goals on the season, opened the scoring at 21:31 off an assist by Caroline DiMonda.
Springstead junior Erin Blackwell knotted the score at 28:49 following a cross by senior Haleigh McDuff.
In the 32nd minute, Cirnigliaro snapped the deadlock on a feed from Sydney Lovell.
In the second half, thanks to an assist by Cassidy Rux, Cirnigliaro added her third goal at 46:00.
Nicole Staley closed the books at 59:00 on an assist by Cirnigliaro.
In the nightcap, Nature Coast Tech (18-2-2) beat Fivay (16-6-2), 4-0.
The Sharks’ defense limited the Falcons to four shots on goal.
Nature Coast senior Hailey Lalande opened the scoring at 3:33 on assists by Jayna Tyler and Chelsea Reid. Aliza Aponte added NCT’s second goal on a throw-in by Reid.