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Preps

Citrus, Lecanto to play for keeps

By KRISTEN LEIGH PORTER
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 4, 2003

INVERNESS -- After tying twice during the regular season, No. 2 seed Citrus and No. 3 Lecanto earned a rematch with wins Monday. in the first round of the Class 2A, District 7 boys soccer tournament. Lecanto defeated No. 6 Ocala West Port 7-1 and host Citrus blanked No. 7 North Marion 7-0.

In the early game, No. 4 Dunnellon beat No. 5 Hernando 3-2 to earn the right to face top-seeded Crystal River in Wednesday's semifinals.

Lecanto (14-3-2) needed less than 10 seconds to score on a Josh McKenna shot. Two goals by Richard Good gave the Panthers a 3-0 cushion at the half.

McKenna added two more goals, and Jeremy Cox and Darren Kopera added scores of their own in the second half.

"One game is behind us," McKenna said.

Lecanto had 27 shots on goal. Panthers keeper Chris Thomashunis had one save before being replaced by Justin Marks, who had two saves.

"We didn't play bad, we just didn't play as good as we could have," Lecanto coach Doug Warren said. "I think they were looking forward to Wednesday."

In the late game, Citrus got its first goal from Matt Steelfox midway through the first half, and led 3-0 at the break. Steelfox and Billy Hon scored twice for the 'Canes, and teammates Chris Gatto, Keith Zigler and Daniel Dorn also found the back of the net.

Citrus had 25 shots on goal, and the closest North Marion got to scoring was on an indirect kick.

"In practice we've been working on a new system of passing the ball, and we just tried to work that out," said Citrus' Hon, who added two assists.

Although it did not work to perfection during the first half, Citrus coach Andrew Castorina said the 'Canes' new triangle passing system was patterned after Gulf Coast Athletic Conference champion Springstead.

"We started off slow," Castorina said. "We still have a lot to do at practice."

Citrus goalie Kevin Garcia had three saves.

In Wednesday's semifinals, Dunnellon faces Crystal River at 6 p.m. and Citrus faces Lecanto at 8.

Central nips Mitchell

SPRING HILL -- George Kirshy didn't think he should have been awarded the penalty kick, but he had no qualms using it to win the game.

The Central junior's shot past keeper Ryan Davis with less than three minutes left gave the fourth-seeded Bears a dramatic 2-1 win over No. 5 Mitchell.

Central (6-3-2) meets top-seeded Springstead (8-0-2) in the semifinals at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Springstead. No. 3 Ridgewood (7-4-0) which walloped East Ridge 8-0, plays second-seeded Leesburg (5-2-3) at 6 p.m.

Kirshy was awarded the decisive shot when he and Davis collided chasing a long pass in the box, then exchanged retaliatory flops on each other. Davis', though arguably not the first, was punished.

"I don't want to say I dived, but it shouldn't have been a PK," Kirshy said. "I just bumped into him with my momentum and he fell over. When he got up, he kind of pushed me, and I made it look like he did it."

Less than two minutes earlier, the Mustangs' Ryan Villiard tied the game when Central's Eric Walasek was whistled for pulling down a Mitchell player in the box.

Villiard's attempt was made easier when Central goaltender Bobby Batista was yellow-carded and sent off for standing too near the ball -- admittedly, Batista said, in an intimidation maneuver -- after it was spotted for the penalty kick. Midfielder Tim Woods defended the shot as keeper but allowed a goal low and to his left.

Ridgewood got two goals from Jose Anazco and five other players scored in a mismatch against 0-11 East Ridge, a first-year program.

-- BRANT JAMES

Wildcats, Gators advance

HUDSON -- The higher seeds prevailed as No. 2 Wesley Chapel and No. 3 Land O"Lakes advanced to meet in Wednesday's semifinal.

Wesley Chapel was tied 1-1 with Zephyrhills at halftime but pulled away from the seventh-seeded Bulldogs for a 4-3 win.

Land O'Lakes had a 2-1 lead on Pasco at halftime and advanced with an easy 4-1 win, outshooting the Pirates 21-4. Michael Renteria led the Gators with two goals, with Michel Plumly and Eric Martin also scoring. Ino Cano had the lone goal for Pasco.

Those two teams will meet Wednesday at 6 p.m. with a region playoff berth on the line. The other semifinal will pit top-seeded Hudson, which earned an opening-round bye, against the winner of tonight's match between fourth-seeded River Ridge and fifth-seeded Gulf.

-- GREG AUMAN

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