3A-10 BOYS: The Cougars don't underestimate the Hawks, claiming the title with a 4-2 victory.
By BRANDON WRIGHT
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 7, 2003
EAST BAY -- Coach David Peacock said after Tuesday's semifinal that he was concerned about a letdown when Durant faced Armwood in the final.
But the Cougars (9-4-1) alleviated his worries Thursday, posting three first-half goals en route to a 4-2 victory and their second straight district crown.
The win was Durant's third against Armwood (7-8-1), which lost to the Cougars by a combined score of 7-0 during the regular season.
As expected, the Hawks, playing their third game in seven days, relied on a strategy that worked to perfection against East Bay. Armwood beat the Indians 1-0 in Tuesday's semifinal by defending its half of the field, then counter-attacking.
"Basically, we had the exact same game plan as we did against East Bay," Armwood coach Frank DeRochemont said. "We wanted to slow the game down and lull them to sleep."
But Durant was prepared. The Cougars assaulted Armwood's goal with crisp, well-built attacks, while rarely allowing Hawks strikers to receive the long balls that worked so well against East Bay.
"We talked about it on the bus," Peacock said. "They have a great keeper who hits it 70-75 yards and (Chad) Usner takes off. But we were ready."
Durant took a 1-0 lead in the 10th minute when David Rivas navigated a perfect cross through three defenders to Monty Hase, who tapped it in from 6 yards.
Then Durant's Stephen Olieburg, who joined the team in January after moving from Holland, and Jan Rodriguez gave the Cougars momentum and a decided advantage, combining for a pair of goals during a four-minute span.
"We've been trying combinations of forwards all year and you're starting to see a rhythm between them," Peacock said.
Rodriguez corralled a ball in the middle of the 6-yard box, drawing goalkeeper Michael Devores off his line, allowing Olieburg to sneak in from the left flank in the 34th minute.
"I couldn't miss that one, it was so wide open," Olieburg said.
Olieburg returned the favor in the 38th minute when he beat a defender draped on his back, touched to his right and found a cutting Rodriguez for the comfortable halftime margin.
Brenton Assing's header in the 61st minute rounded out Durant's scoring before a pair of Usner free kicks closed the gap to 4-2 late.