By EMILY NIPPS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 4, 2002
TAMPA -- In the faceoff between Land O'Lakes and Jesuit in the Soccer Tournament of Champions at Ed Radice Sports Complex, neither team played its best in the 40-degree temperatures, drizzling rain and wind.
Neither team played its worst, either.
By the end, the Tigers and Gators were happy to shake hands on a 2-2 tie and move on to the next round.
"We're playing in a tough bracket," Jesuit coach Bob Bauman said. "With a tie against Land O'Lakes, we're advancing with nothing against us. But we were certainly disappointed to give up a goal in the last few mintes of the game."
The Tigers (13-1-3) struck first with a goal in the first 30 seconds when Joe Rotolo scored on a penalty kick.
The Gators (8-3-3) made no shots on Tigers goalkeeper Sean O'Sullivan in the first half, but remained aggressive in the second half.
In the 48th minute, Gators midfielder Chris Gray took control of the ball on the right wing and dribbled inside the penalty box. He took a low shot that was almost saved, but the wet ball slipped out of O'Sullivan's hands.
Tied 1-1, Jesuit forward Danny Hamzah scored on a long throw-in to regain the lead for the Tigers in the 65th minute.
But a Jesuit defensive breakdown gave Gray another chance to tie the game, and he did so after streaking to the inside of the box, trapping a crossing ball and making the goal.
"We're happy with the tie, obviously, but we played very sporadically," Land O'Lakes coach Mark Pearson said. "We just floated in and out ... a tie was very deserving."
The Gators had a chance to win on a point-blank shot that looked like a sure goal, but O'Sullivan made a tough save to preserve the tie.
Jesuit, the defending champion, will play Clearwater Central Catholic tonight at 6. Land O'Lakes will also play at 6 against Gaither, which defeated the Marauders 3-0 Thursday.