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Cowboys tune up with victory over Sickles

© St. Petersburg Times
published January 28, 2003

TAMPA -- Sickles and Gaither were both hoping to use Monday's non-district contest as a warmup heading into the playoffs next week. The Cowboys (9-7-2) made the most of it in a gritty 2-1 win.

Sickles (9-2-2) ended its regular season on a two-game skid after going unbeaten in its first 11 games.

"Right now, we're letting other teams dictate the pace, and we're not matching their intensity," Gryphons coach Mike Rady said. "We've got to play better. We have one week to fix it."

The Cowboys got on the scoreboard in the third minute when Trevor Scott took a ball at the top of the box and blasted it past Sickles keeper Will Watts into the left corner.

Sickles answered in the 47th minute with a nifty play on a direct free kick just outside the box.

Chaz Jansen passed it to the right of Gaither's wall to a wide-open Ryan O'Connor. This forced Gaither keeper James Cobb to charge O'Connor, who played it back across the goalmouth to Ramin Khazami for the finish.

Gaither scored the winning goal in the 65th minute as Joey Rotolo got free on the right side of the box and nailed it into the left corner.

The Cowboys missed Rotolo as well as coach Eric Simms for six weeks during red-card suspensions. The team lost five straight games in that stretch.

Now, as the No.3 seed and host of the Class 4A, District 5 tournament, the Cowboys could play spoilers.

"We're still a young team, but we're starting to make much smarter decisions now," Sims said. "If my guys show up and play like I know they can, we can make a good run at the district title."

A familiar result

As they often have in the past, the Cowboys and Gryphons played to a draw.

Gaither (13-3-1) got an early goal from Natalie Arcilla on a free kick from Carey Hummel, but Sickles (9-1-4) evened it on a penalty kick by Lydia Harvey in a 1-1 tie.

"We have the biggest group of overachievers playing for each other this year," Gaither coach Diane Sumner said.

Sickles and Gaither played to a 0-0 tie last season.

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