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Bucs go from 4th to 1st

A-6 BOYS: Berkeley Prep hangs on for a 1-0 win against Tampa Prep and will host a region quarterfinal game.

By ROD GIPSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 7, 2003


CLEARWATER -- With the defending state champion out of the way the road to the district title figured to be an easy one.

Not so fast.

Berkeley Prep eliminated last year's champion, Clearwater Central Catholic, Tuesday in the opening round. But Thursday night against Tampa Prep, a team in its first season of winter soccer, the Bucs had to work hard to prove their victory over the Marauders wasn't a fluke, beating the Terrapins 1-0 for the title.

In winning its first district crown since 1999, Berkeley Prep (9-11-4) advanced to the Feb. 13 region quarterfinals and will host the loser of the Lakeland Santa Fe/Mulberry game. Tampa Prep (13-3-5), a traditional power in fall soccer, travels to face the Santa Fe/Mulberry winner.

"Tampa Prep played well," said Berkeley Prep coach Dave Zimmerman, whose team entered the four-team tournament as the fourth seed. "But overall we just played our game, we had opportunities and we converted."

Early on, however, both teams had opportunities.

Tampa Prep, which forced the ball deep into Berkeley's end of the field for much of the first half, missed its chance to take the lead when a shot from inside the box sailed high with 12 minutes, 32 seconds left in the half.

The Buccaneers didn't miss their chance.

From about 15 yards, sophomore midfielder Scott Strickland maintained his dribble in traffic and ripped a shot past Terps keeper Kevin Karpay. Both teams remained aggressive in the second half, and although the Bucs had more chances, the Terrapins almost scored the equalizer -- twice.

With 29:49 left in the game, an Alexei Novitzky header went wide right, and with 2:30 left, a long throw-in near the corner sailed high into a crowd where Berkeley Prep freshman goalkeeper Andrew McAdams came down with the ball.

"This is a big rivalry between these two teams," said Strickland, whose goal was his eighth of the season. "This is the toughest district in the state and to win it is a big accomplishment."

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