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Warhawks soar

CLASS 3A BOYS SOCCER CHAMPIONSIP GAME: Seminole wins with defense and key stops from goalie Aaron Ingham.

[Times photo: Toni L. Sandys]
Seminole celebrates after defeating Leon High 1-0 for its first state title since 1982.

By LAURA LEE
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 2, 2003


TAMPA -- Seminole goalie Aaron Ingham was prepared for the worst.

Losing two sweepers this season, one going down in the region semifinal with a broken leg, he knew the Warhawks' defense, partly made up of reserves, would be untested and unpredictable.

In Saturday's Class 3A state final, Seminole's defense held up as well as it could, forcing Tallahassee Leon into four scoreless overtimes. And whatever slipped by the backfield, Ingham was there to clean up, making two leaping saves during penalty kicks, to secure the state championship for the Warhawks, who beat Leon, 1-0 at Pepin Stadium.

The game, which lasted more than 100 minutes was a defensive battle, with exceptional play from both goalies.

Ingham blocked the Lions' first two penalty kick attempts and the Warhawks made four in a row, outshooting Leon 4-1, giving Seminole its first state title since 1982. Ingham, a senior who will play at the University of Central Florida next year, was named Class 3A state finals MVP.

"Before (penalty kicks) me and Morgan (Riley) were talking," Ingham said. "I was just going to go left every time. I just happened to go that way and I got lucky."

Warhawks Forrest Reid, Kevin Shea, Joey Brown and Morgan Riley scored the penalty kicks. Leon (26-9) has lost three of its past five final four appearances in penalty kicks.

"They played very hard. They played a very physical game," Seminole coach Rick Masi said of Leon. "I thought in overtime we really took it to them.

"I knew we had the game," Masi said of going into penalty kicks with Ingham in goal. "I had the confidence in him."

Seminole (24-6-2) started the game controlling the ball in the first half, but got few opportunities on goal.

"I would say the first 15 minutes they had control," Leon coach Allan Rice said. "We start slow. Our defense keeps us in it like they have all year."

The Lions took over in the second half, attacking Seminole's box. Leon senior Mikael Angesjo, a foreign exchange student from Sweden who leads the Lions with 33 goals, had several good runs on the ball, but wasn't able to finish.

"He cuts your angles for you so you don't have anywhere to put it," Angesjo said about Ingham. "He did an awesome job."

Seminole's defense allowed 14 goals all season and the while the Warhawks' record reflects six losses, three of those games were played, won, and retroactively forfeited because the Warhawks played an ineligible player.

"It hasn't set in yet, really," said senior Corey Ahern, who would have taken the fifth penalty kick if needed. "I know this is a great accomplishment. It feels great now. I'm sure it will get better."

After making the fourth and final penalty kick, Riley ran down the sideline, lifting his jersey revealing a homemade T-shirt with "State Champs" on the front and on the back, "21 Years, Wow. ... "

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