PLANT CITY — Seminole High girls soccer coach Gary Kolb said he tried a lot of tricks heading into Thursday’s Class 4A-Region 3 quarterfinal meeting against Plant City.
The longtime area coach said he reminded his players of last season’s region semifinal loss to the Raiders, gave an impassioned speech on the bus ride over, even screened the movie “Miracle” — the story of the surprising 1980 United States Olympic hockey team’s famed Miracle on Ice win over the Soviet Union.
“We talked about believing and never quitting and having heart, even watched ‘Miracle’ on the bus ride over,” Kolb said. “They knew that they weren’t going to quit tonight, I could see the fire in their eyes.”
However, all it took for Kolb’s team was a wake-up lead change and a well-timed substitution as the Warhawks answered a 74th-minute Plant City goal with two goals in the final 4 minutes for a 3-2 win.
Seminole (21-3-1) carried play throughout the first half, getting on the board in the 33rd minute when a Brianna Froncillo corner kick found Amanda Walker for the finish.
Plant City (18-3) came alive after the second-half water break, tying the match as Diane Corzine sent a long pass to a charging Stephanie Galloway, who drew out the keeper before sending a shot to the right along the ground.
The Raiders took the lead when Galloway sent in a corner kick that was flicked on by Jennifer Ruiz for her first goal of the season.
The Warhawks didn’t show they were fazed, quickly evening things as freshman Teagan Payne entered into the match for just the final six minutes and deflected a Froncillo corner kick across the line. And just over a minute later, Froncillo decided the match, sending along a 30-yard free kick to the back of the net.
The loss ends the run of the most successful Plant City girls soccer team in school history as eight seniors will graduate after posting record winning seasons over the last two years.
“They set a tone from here on out, something fun to live up to,” Raiders coach Caleb Roberts said. “The thrill of the ride, ups, downs, good teams, bad teams we are going to continue to play this style.”
- Jarrett Guthrie
4A-2: Winter Haven slips past Sickles, 3-1
Sickles took a one-goal lead into halftime, but it slipped away as host Winter Haven stopped the Gryphons, 3-1. Sickles (10-6-1) carried the lead well into the second half before the Blue Devils first evened the match, then added two more goals in the final 25 minutes.
The Gryphons’ goal was scored by junior Sophie McKenzie in the first half.
- Jarrett Guthrie
4A-3: Seminole Osceola stops East Bay, 3-0
SEMINOLE — After a sluggish start, junior Gabby Holcombe gave Osceola the lift it needed to get past East Bay in the Class 4A-Region 3 quarterfinals 3-0.
After missing a few chances, the Warriors finally converted in the 39th minute when Holcombe rebounded Cassidy Reich’s free kick after it bounced around in front of the goal and East Bay was unable to clear it. The Warriors added two more second-half goals to eventually cruise to a 3-0 victory.
“I think (the goal) got us pumped up,” Holcombe said. “We were kind of down. We weren’t playing as well as we normally do. We definitely came out better in the second half.”
In the 60th minute, Reich executed a perfect cross to Sam Piper, who broke free from the defense and beat the goalie for a 2-0 lead. Courtney Smith scored in the 78th minute.
- Phil Neary
4A-2: Unbeaten Mitchell downs Lakeland, 3-0
TRINITY — Even when Mitchell shuts out an opponent and limits it to just a couple shots on goal, it isn’t satisfied.
Mitchell coach Karl Kukec wasn’t overly joyous about his team’s 3-0 victory against Lakeland (10-11-1) in a Class 4A-Region 2 quarterfinal Thursday night at Mustang Field. Kukec’s club improved to 23-0, but knows his team must improve its level of play if it is to reach the later rounds.
“We didn’t play a good game tonight,” Kukec said. “I hope this is the off game. I wasn’t very happy how we played the game, although everybody did get to play.”
Mitchell had plenty of opportunities to balloon its lead, as they had 24 shots on goal compared to Lakeland’s two.
Lakeland goalkeeper Elizabeth Kovacs made 13 saves on the night and was kept busy for most of the 80 minutes of play.
The Mustangs scored their first goal in the fourth minute on a quick shot by freshman Sabrina Wagner.
Balea Schumacher added the later two goals for Mitchell in the 12th and 48th minutes. Mitchell advances to Tuesday’s region semifinal against Winter Haven, a 3-1 winner against Sickles.
- Andy Villamarzo
3A-3: Robinson rolls past Tarpon Springs, 7-0
TAMPA — Robinson’s most successful class in school history pumped up its resume a little more. The Knights nearly mercy-ruled Tarpon Springs with a 7-0 victory that sends them into the Class 3A-Region 3 semifinals for only the second time.
“We don’t have any super stars and we’re not this braggadocios type of team,’’ Robinson coach Billy Helms said. “You can shut us down on one end but we’re going to hit you on another.”
The Knights came in averaging 4.6 goals per match and reached that point early in the second half.
Three players — Sam Ishee, Amanda Chromiak and Megan Bohan — each netted a pair of scores and Sara Jennewein recorded the other.
Ishee put Robinson on the board in the fourth minute when a mis-hit still managed to sneak past Tarpon Springs keeper Maria Gil.
- Eric Horchy, Suncoast News
3A-2: Cannata, Land O’ Lakes blank Hudson
LAND O’ LAKES — Given the long postseason road, Land O’ Lakes was glad to have a hard-fought, first-round match.
The Gators (24-1) advanced to the Class 3A-Region 2 semifinals by downing Hudson 2-0.
“It’s good to have a tough match right off the bat because it keeps us fresh and prepared for the later rounds,” Gators coach Vicky King said. “They’re well-coached and have good players and we know (Dominique Cirnigliaro) can be deadly, even from 55 yards out, so we knew they would be tough.”
Cirnigliaro, who has a Pasco County-high 56 goals, was a game-time decision after fracturing her right wrist in the district tournament, but played with a cast Thursday night.
However, the Gators would take a 1-0 lead when Tori Cannata was awarded a penalty kick after being fouled hard in the Hudson box. Cannata would bury her team-high 26th goal in the 34th minute. Hudson (21-6-1) would get solid chances, including its best early in the second half when Cirnigliaro took a free kick from atop the Gators’ box, only to bank it off the crossbar.
“A few inches lower and we’re in the game until the end,” Cobras coach Stephen Jones said. “I’m happy with the way we had to play and how Dom played with her injury, but the second goal took the wind out of our sails.”
- Mike Camunas
3A-2: Sunlake falls to Brooksville Nature Coast
BROOKSVILLE — Nature Coast Technical (20-2-2) extended its season at the expense of youthful Sunlake (16-5-3) at Shark Tank Stadium, 3-0.
The setback was Sunlake’s eighth in a row against the Sharks. They’ve been out-scored, 40-0.
Behind a pair of goals by frosh striker Jayna Tyler plus the Hernando County –leading 28th goal of the season by senior striker Hailey Lalande, the Sharks handed the visiting Seahawks their second straight regional quarterfinal setback.
The Sharks extended their non-losing streak to 12 matches – featuring an 11-match win skein - behind their 13th shutout of the season. Senior goalkeeper Samantha Oliveira converted seven saves
The win permitted NCT to tie the Hernando County record for most wins in a season (20) – initially set by 2006-07 Springstead Eagles.
- Tony Castro