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VALRICO -- It is easy to tell when Bloomingdale is playing its game. The balls are on the ground, the passes are crisp and the shots are in the net.
It is also easy to tell when Bloomingdale is not on top of its game because they're typically losing.
During Tuesday night's region semifinal against Boca Raton Olympic Heights, the Bulls were definitely not on top of their game. Most of the balls were in the air, most of the shots were off the mark and, worse yet, Olympic Heights walked away with a 2-0 win.
"They took advantage of their opportunities," Bulls coach Sam Isajar said.
The first mistake came in the 28th minute when Olympic Heights (12-5-4) scored on a counterattack that brought Bloomingdale keeper Chris Sedlak, fresh from his trip to Brazil with the under-18 regional team, off his line. It was just enough for Andres Hinestroza to tap one into the corner.
Bloomingdale (19-2-1 and ranked No. 6 in the nation by Studentsports.com) picked up the pace and controlled the ball much of the game, outshooting Heights 11-6. But Lions keeper Chris Imparato made several spectacular saves to deny the Bulls a trip to the region final for the second straight year. Olympic Heights beat Bloomingdale in penalty kicks in last season's region semifinal en route to an undefeated state championship season.
"I think they outplayed us, we just finished our opportunities," Olympic Heights coach Mike Kozlowski said. "In this time of the year, when your season is one game, you've got to find someone who can score for you consistently."
Bloomingdale was just looking for someone who could score, period.
Olympic Heights used Johnny Carlson as a sweeper and assigned one man to guard leading scorer Tommy Davisson, which was enough to shut down the potent Bulls offense.
GREENACRES -- John I. Leonard ended Gaither's run through the playoffs with a looping header in the 31st minute, a goal that made it 1-0, which is how the game ended.
It was the only blemish on an outstanding night for Gaither keeper James Cobb, who made 19 saves.
The Lancers (19-2-4) outshot Gaither (12-10-2) 25-8, but the Cowboys missed on a few nice second-half opportunities.
-- TIMES STAFF