CLASS 2A BOYS: Brandon uses memory of loss to Lake Gibson in last season to fuel 4-0 win.
By JEREMY RASMUSSEN
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 22, 2003
LAKELAND -- Brandon will make its first trip to the state semifinals after overwhelming Lake Gibson 4-0 in Friday's regional final.
The Braves beat the Eagles 3-2 in last season's regional quarterfinals then went on to win the state championship. This time, however, it was all Brandon.
"Last year was in the back of our minds, definitely," Eagles coach Allen Ware said. "But we were determined not to let that happen again."
Brandon (20-1-2) controlled the ball most of the first half but nearly found itself down a goal when Lake Gibson forward Adam Leigh knocked one off the crossbar in the 26th minute.
Derek Goforth and Andy Skiffington worked the ball effectively together up front for the Eagles and got several chances before connecting in the 31st minute.
Goforth sent a ball into the box to Skiffington. Braves goalie Kyle Callahan tried to come over the top of him but was only able to punch the ball back to Goforth, who lobbed a shot into the net.
Brandon dominated the second half, spending most of its time in the Lake Gibson penalty area.
In the 49th minute, Ryan Teneyck scored on a shot into the upper corner for a 2-0 lead.
Three minutes later, Jason Poole tucked a free kick from 20 yards out into the near corner.
Goforth and Skiffington hooked up on another goal with 11 minutes left. Goforth took a throw-in from Poole down to the touchline, then cut it back to Skiffington in the middle for the finish.
The Eagles outshot the Braves 23-13, but midfielder Michael Guess said finishing was the difference.
"Last year, we also controlled it and had a bunch of chances but we didn't finish," Guess said. "Tonight we were putting them in."
Lake Gibson's field was larger than most of the fields in Hillsborough County, and that appeared to favor Brandon's style of play.
"We like to play our midfielders right out to the sidelines," Poole said. "We just spread the field. I don't think there's a team that can touch us when we spread it like that."
The state tournament will take place at Ed Radice Park in Tampa, which also has big fields. In Thursday's semifinal, Brandon will play Rockledge (17-6-4), a 1-0 winner over Key West.