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Title for two

The Marauders claim their ninth championship with a convincing 3-0 win.

By RODNEY PAGE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 24, 2002

TAMPA -- A cardinal sin in big games is to give your opponent an added incentive. Clearwater Central Catholic was already motivated to beat Plantation American Heritage after losing to the Patriots in last year's semifinals.

The intensity only increased when some American Heritage players taunted the Marauders prior to Saturday's final at the Ed Radice Sports Complex.

Bad move.

CCC jumped on the Patriots early and never let up in a 3-0 win. It's the first title for the Marauders since 1996 and the ninth in school history.

American Heritage (21-3-3) is the runner-up for the second consecutive season.

"They were being quite obnoxious and we wanted to give it to them," CCC junior midfielder Ted Anderson said. "They were running their mouths and being obnoxious. We kept it in our gut and did our talking on the field."

And they started talking early.

In the third minute, the Marauders had a three-on-one breakaway that ended in a Joey Ijjas goal. Anderson shook his defender and crossed to Ijjas, who scored from 15 yards.

"That was huge," said CCC coach Jim Harte, who was doused with three buckets of water by his players in celebration. "That's our game plan. To come at people with wave after wave."

The wave crashed over American Heritage again in the 31st minute. Nathan Whitley played a long cross to Ijjas, who was close to being offsides. Ijjas chased down the ball 20 yards from goal and rocketed it past keeper Kyle Thomas for a 2-0 halftime lead.

Ijjas scored four goals in the postseason.

"I'm very surprised," said Ijjas, who had nine goals all season. "I wasn't expecting to score as many goals as I did. But it feels good."

With the CCC defense refusing to bend, American Heritage became frustrated in the second half. It finally boiled over with eight minutes remaining, when American Heritage's Thiago Oliveria collided with CCC keeper Brad Parker and was red-carded.

Patriots' midfielder Juan Ocampo, who had 17 assists this season, didn't play in the championship game after receiving a red card in the semifinals. With a man advantage, the Marauders scored their last goal with three minutes left. Mike Scanlon chased down a ball at midfield and crossed to an open David Schreck, who shot from 20 yards.

"We've been talking about this forever," Scanlon said. "We've been talking about this for four years and we finally did it."

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