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Marauders face mirror image

Clearwater Central Catholic and Jacksonville Bolles have nearly identical records and similar traditions.

By LAURA LEE

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 25, 2003


CLEARWATER -- Their traditions are almost identical. Fourteen playoff appearances, 13 of them consecutive and three state titles. Their records are even very similar: 19-3-3 vs. 19-3-5.

Clearwater Central Catholic and Jacksonville Bolles also met in January. Several Marauders call it the season's turning point. Perhaps it was all of the bonding during the five-hour drive to Jacksonville and staying overnight in a hotel. Or maybe it was beating the revered Bulldogs 2-1 at Bolles.

The Marauders meet Bolles again in the Class A state semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Ed Radice Sports Complex in Tampa.

"I remember we came into the game really intimidated," junior sweeper Lisa Matuska said. "That just made us play with so much more intensity. We reached a higher level. We were in a groove. We were working together and making beautiful plays."

Two who made a major connection in the game were senior Jessica Hallgren and junior Kari Weniger. Both Marauder goals were scored by headers from Weniger off of throw-ins from Hallgren.

"In the Bolles game something just clicked," Weniger said.

"We just started playing off each other," Hallgren said. "The whole team, everything clicked. The ball had been dropping. We hadn't been finishing. I can't even say it was bouncing the right way. I can honestly say we were putting it in the right spot."

After beating the Bulldogs, CCC (19-3-3) switched places with Bolles (19-3-5) in the Florida Athletic Coaches Association poll, moving from No.3 to No.2. The Marauders have gone 12-1-1, losing only to Class 3A state power Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas and tying district rival St. Petersburg Catholic.

Credit is divided among all parts of the team and extra recognition is given to the leadership of the captains, Hallgren, Weniger and senior Samantha Robinson. Robinson, who was a force on defense, broke her arm in last week's region semifinal game against Fort Myers Bishop Verot, leaving Hallgren and Weniger to split on-field leadership responsibilities.

The two make up the heart of the offense. At forward, or whichever position best suits the team, Hallgren leads the team in scoring with 25 goals and 21 assists. Weniger, at center midfield, constantly adjusts to players and situations around her and is second in both categories with 16 goals and 11 assists.

"Kari is probably one of the better technical players on the team," CCC coach Tom Typrowicz said. "She does a good job as playmaker. Jessica, with her athleticism, is the other side of that connection."

Matuska said the pair have held the team together.

"As leaders they really motivate us. Sometimes that's what we really need," Matuska said. "They help us realize how important this is."

The last time CCC met Bolles in the state tournament was the 1994 championship, which the Marauders lost 2-1. Though CCC got the best of Bolles in January, Typrowicz said the Marauders will have to act like it never happen.

"We have to forget that we won," Typrowicz said, approaching the game similarly to the region final when the Marauders played Berkeley Prep for a fourth time this season. "We have to play like we played for the first time."

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