By JEREMY RASMUSSEN
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 25, 2002
TAMPA -- The Bulls are back on top.
Bloomingdale (14-1) won the conference championship 2-0 against Plant on Thursday, playing with the same intensity it has shown all season.
As the county's premier large-school program through much of the 1990s, Bloomingdale built its reputation on hard-working teams with a lot of depth.
But after playing second fiddle to Gaither the past two seasons and losing longtime coach Dave Tennian, the Bulls had some question marks.
New coach Samuel Isajar further shook up the team by cutting some seniors and going with a younger lineup.
The results, however, have been remarkable.
"We proved we are doing the right thing," Isajar said. "We have a lot of young guys who are working hard and trying to play good soccer, and the wins are coming."
It wasn't easy, however.
Plant, which upset Bloomingdale 2-1 in last year's conference semifinals, gave the Bulls all they could handle again Thursday.
The Panthers (8-2-4) had a solid defensive scheme, marking Bloomingdale's dangerous strikers man-to-man.
Nick de Alejo was on Todd Cripe and David Williams had Tom Davison.
A scuffle just before halftime disrupted both teams' plans, however.
Plant midfielder Don Greiwe and Bloomingdale defender Boomer Morgan were red-carded, leaving each team down a man.
With more space to work, both teams found increased offensive chances in the second half.
After a furious attack by Plant that saw shots by Tommy Howell and Lucas Jewett go just wide, Bloomingdale got on the scoreboard in the 70th minute.
David Schmitt made a hard throw-in that bounced into the middle of the box. Brandon Whitt, who had just entered the game on a substitution, headed it in.
With a minute remaining, the Bulls got an insurance goal from Davison off another assist from Schmitt.
Plant coach Dennis Derflinger said he was happy with his team's effort despite the loss.
"We accomplished almost everything we wanted to. The only thing we lacked was finishing," he said.