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Pressure builds as PKs decide games

By LAURA LEE
Published December 21, 2003

TAMPA - Jesuit and Brandon were lucky: Only one of the Tigers' and Eagles' games came down to penalty kicks in Saturday's opening of the Student Sports Invitational.

Palm Harbor University had to go through it twice, as did Seminole. Since there is no overtime, several games came down to PK's.

Brandon plays Palm Harbor on Monday for a trip to the Elite championship bracket, and Jesuit, which won both its games Saturday, has to go through Miami Virela to earn a shot at the title.

There are four pools with four teams each, and one team from each pool advances to the championship bracket, play for which begins Monday.

Brandon lost its first game 2-1 (6-5) in penalty kicks to Hialeah American. The Eagles led 1-0 on an a goal from Andy Skiffington for most of the game, but American tied it with three minutes to play. In Brandon's second game the Eagles handled Jacksonville Bolles easily, holding on to a 2-0 halftime lead. Skiffington and Ryan Teneyck scored.

Both of Palm Harbor's games went to penalty kicks, and freshman goalie Phil Xanthondakis, normally a reserve, came up with huge saves in wins over Bolles and American.

The Hurricanes had to come back in both games, especially difficult in the second game against a quick, balanced and skilled American team. American was up 1-0 when Steven Whiteside scored on a scissor kick in the 47th minute. After another American goal David Cole tied the game at 2 in the 62nd minute. The Hurricanes won 4-3 in penalty kicks when American's opportunity to tie went over the goal.

The main thing Palm Harbor coach Juan Pablo Pinzon said he knows about Brandon is it won the state championship last season. And the only time Brandon coach Allen Ware has seen the Hurricanes play was two years ago, when they won the state title.

"I know that they're good and we have to be on our game to contend with them," Ware said.

Although both teams were tied for the lead in their pool, the loser of the game could be going home if American beats Bolles.

Jesuit beat Tallahassee Lincoln in penalty kicks in its first game. The Tigers came back in the second to beat St. Augustine Nease 2-0. Sophomore Xaviero Pecora scored both gaols in the second half.

Defending state champion Seminole faced Servite, the defending state champ from California, in its second game. The Warhawks played Servite to a 2-2 tie but fell 5-4 in penalty kicks. Since Seminole won its first game 1-0 in penalty kicks over Palm Beach, the Warhawks are in contention to play for a spot in the consolation bracket.

Plant lost both its games and is out of the running.

Premier bracket

CITRUS PARK - Berkeley Prep dominated, Bloomingdale got some measure of revenge and Clearwater Central Catholic stayed alive in the Premier bracket of the Student Sports Invitational Radice Park.

The host Buccaneers stayed unbeaten at 8-0-1 after pounding Louisiana Northside 7-1 and Countryside 4-0. Tyler Davis had a pair of goals in each game.

"Our level of confidence (against Countryside) just rose throughout the whole game," Bucs coach Dave Zimmerman said. "We have great team chemistry right now."

Bloomingdale avenged a blowout loss to Melbourne Central Catholic in last season's tournament with a 1-0 win on penalty kicks. The Bulls later topped Sarasota Cardinal Mooney 5-2, setting up a showdown at 11 a.m. Monday with Lake Mary, which also has two wins.

Gaither (6-5) dominated from start to finish against CCC (5-1-2) but could not find the back of the net. After a scoreless tie, the Cowboys won the shootout 3-2.

However, it was the day's earlier results that knocked Gaither out of the tournament. While CCC beat Oviedo 2-1, the Cowboys fell 2-0 against Tallahassee Leon. A regulation win is worth 3 points, a shootout win worth 2 and a shootout loss worth 1. With Leon winning 3-1 over Oviedo in the late game, Gaither was eliminated from the championship bracket and needs a win Monday against Oviedo combined with a CCC loss to play for fifth.

"This was definitely one of the better games we've played all season, but we're still looking for an offensive leader to step up and put it in for us," Gaither coach Eric Sims said.

If CCC wins outright against Leon at noon Monday, the Marauders advance to the championship bracket. If they tie, they play for fifth. A loss combined with a Gaither win sends CCC home.

In other action, Orange park upset the top team in Class 6A, Miami Sunset 1-0.

- Times corrospondent Jeremy Rasmussen contributed to this report.

[Last modified December 21, 2003, 01:16:22]

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