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TAMPA -- Neither the Brandon boys or the Land O'Lakes girls had ever won on the biggest stage. But today, both can call themselves state soccer champions.
Brandon ended 27 years of futility with a 3-1 Class 2A victory over St. Augustine Nease at the Ed Radice Complex. The Eagles (23-1-1) went down early, fought back to tie it by halftime, and clawed their way to two second-half goals.
The big score came with just under eight minutes to go in the game. Jason Poole arced a throw-in toward the center of a Nease wall. David Zettel outjumped his defender and buried the ball in the back of the net.
In the Class 2A girls game, Stacy Bishop, Pasco County's all-time leading scorer, came through one last time on a breakaway in the Gators' 1-0 victory over Riveria Beach Suncoast.
"I get a picture of the game in my head and I score the winning goal," said Bishop, who extended her single-season school record to 55 goals and her all-time county mark to 194.
TARAVELLA 2, LAKE MARY 1: Danny Grunwald's strike in the 67th minute lifted Taravella over Lake Mary. "We really clicked in the second half," Taravella coach J.D. Crum said. "We didn't have things going in the first half, this team is mature and they responded in the second half and would not be denied."
Rafael Teixeira dribbled deep into the left corner of the penalty box and centered a ball to a streaking Grunwald, who planted a shot into the top left corner of the goal from 15 yards for the winner.
MELBOURNE CENTRAL CATHOLIC 3, CARDINAL MOONEY 1: A team that was winless two years ago nearly pulled off the unthinkable. Cardinal Mooney (22-1-2) scored in the 37th minute Saturday on a free kick by Randy Warren to go up 1-0 on undefeated Melbourne Central Catholic, ranked No. 2 in the nation by Student Sports magazine.
However, the Hustlers' Chris Chrissy ensured there would be no upset. He took a through ball from Matt Myers and slipped it past Cougar keeper Aaron Snyder in the 49th minute.
Tied 3-3 in the final round of penalty kicks, Griffon drove a shot into the lower left corner.
Hustlers coach Scott Armstrong said he had his team stay back and play defense for the first half of the game, hoping he could tire the Bulldogs after their grueling win over Clearwater Central Catholic Friday
The plan worked as Courtney Hambel notched her 33rd goal of the season on a cross from Dana Merrill in the 47th minute. However, Bolles had plans of its own as Kristen Poppell nailed the equalizer in the 61st minute.
Freshman Jane Alukonis scored the game-winner in the first minute of overtime.