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Preps

Cougars' keeper gets 13th shutout of season

3A-10 GIRLS: Durant's 2-0 win gives it homefield advantage in the region tournament.

By TERRY JONES

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 7, 2003


BRADENTON -- Megan Bowers kept Bradenton Lakewood Ranch attackers out of the Durant net for her 13th shutout of the season, helping the Cougars capture the title with a 2-0 win.

The victory also gave Durant homefield advantage Tuesday in the first match of the region playoffs. The Cougars will play Plant, which lost to King 3-0.

Durant started slow but soon took control of the midfield during the first half. With no score in the closing seconds of injury time, Alicia Tirelli was fouled in front of the net, giving Durant a penalty kick.

Junior midfielder/defender Emily Stutzman outguessed the Mustang goalie, blasting the ball into the empty left side of the netfor a 1-0 halftime lead.

Durant took a 2-0 lead 2 minutes, 50 seconds into the second half. After getting an early corner kick, Tirelli kicked low off the corner to the head of Mandy Anton, who hit it high over the Mustang defense and keeper.

"The first goal didn't deflate us," Lakewood Ranch coach Coquina Hemberee said. "Actually, it helped us to come out early in the second half with more intensity. Maybe too much though, because we gave up the corner kick early. The second goal so early did seem to give us a letdown."

Durant didn't slow down, even with a two-goal lead, maintaining midfield control and pushing Lakewood Ranch back. The Mustangs were unable to mount a serious attack. Lakewood Ranch managed only six shots-on-goal all night. None of those was a problem for Bowers.

"We had the best of ball-control tonight," Durant coach Dick Sheffield said. "My philosophy is defense first, but we are an attacking team. When you control the middle with good defense, you can push forward with an attack."

Anton, a senior midfielder/forward, led the Cougars in the middle and pushed forward often.

"They were strong in the first half, which was an eye-opener for us," Anton said. "But we came back and stayed together as a team throughout. The corner kick was a set play, and it was just luck I was the one to get a head on it."

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