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Preps

Wildcats dump Crystal River

CLASS 2A: Wesley Chapel's defense keeps the Pirates' shots to a minimum in a 2-1 victory.

By KRISTEN LEIGH PORTER

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 14, 2003


CRYSTAL RIVER -- Wesley Chapel wanted to make its first playoff appearance last a little bit longer.

Thanks to its 2-1 victory against Crystal River on Thursday night, the Wildcats (10-6-5) will play at St. Augustine Nease in Tuesday's semifinal.

"It's all first-time things, and we're making the records for our school," Wesley Chapel coach Brian Dorkowski said. "The kids are just ecstatic about it and so am I."

A gutsy performance by sophomore Jose Arroyo personified the Wildcats' effort.

During Wednesday's practice, Arroyo had taken a blow to his left calf. He slept with ice on it, had ice on it all day at school and then came out and tried to do what he could.

Good thing for Wesley Chapel.

In the 49th minute, Arroyo scored what would be be the winning goal, putting the Wildcats up 2-0.

"No one goal comes from one player," Arroyo said. "It was a team goal, a team win.

"Great balls were played to me. I couldn't have played the balls to myself."

Less than two minutes in, Arroyo and a Crystal River defender made contact with the ball before it went past Pirates keeper Jimmy Turner. That gave the Wildcats an early 1-0 lead and the momentum.

"That really deflated us, the first goal was an own goal," Crystal River coach Bobby Verlato said. "Defensively, we did pretty well in the first half, but they had a lot more shots than we did.

"Our offense wasn't able to put it together."

The Wildcats had 12 shots on goal compared to four for the Pirates (12-7-1) in the second half. Wesley Chapel outshot Crystal River 11-2 in the first half.

Wesley Chapel keeper Joe Berenguer, a first-year player, had four saves.

"My defense stepped up tonight and showed everybody you can't underestimate us," he said.

The Pirates offense had chances in the second half.

In the 64th minute, senior Josh Caldwell connected on a penalty kick to cut the lead to 2-1, but that was all the offense Crystal River could muster.

"We just weren't able to put the ball in the back of the net," Verlato said.

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