Just for a moment, the Hurricanes braced themselves for the unexpected at the start of Wednesday's Class 5A state semifinal against two-time defending state champion Satellite Beach Satellite in Lockhart Stadium.
And when their nerves relaxed, they realized it was not that bad. The Hurricanes played with the Scorpions touch for touch during the first half.
The second half was a different story. Satellite (28-0-1) scored twice for a 2-0 win to advance to today's final against Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas. Junior forward Brittney Marriott scored both goals for the Scorpions.
"I'm very, very proud of the girls," PHU coach John Planamenta said. "We came in as a huge underdog and held the No.1 team in the nation to a good game. To end this way doesn't do it justice."
After winning 21 consecutive games, PHU's season ended on its first and only loss.
Though the Hurricanes were timid at the start, they stuck with their game, patiently passing upfield, trying to break through a strong Satellite defense. The play was so even the ball was tied up at midfield several times.
Marriott got her first goal in the 48th minute when Azarian came well out of the penalty box to contest her. Marriott made a sharp cut to beat Azarian and sent a hard 25-yarder from the right side.
The Hurricanes started to pressure more on offense. They moved more players in position to score and got a few shots on goal. But PHU left itself vulnerable in the back and the Scorpions got clearer chances on goals. Satellite broke through a second time in the 71st minute.
Game 2: Gators fall 5-0 to St. Thomas Aquinas
FORT LAUDERDALE - Four years ago Vicky King watched as the Land O'Lakes boys team lost a state semifinal to Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas.
As coach of the Land O'Lakes girls team, the sideline view wasn't any better.
The Raiders dashed the Gators' bid for back-to-back state titles with a 5-0 win in a Class 5A semifinal at Lockhart Stadium.
"It's tough," a teary-eyed King said afterward. "I guess when you get this far it's harder because they tried so hard.
"This is good, though. It's great for the school, great for the team."
Eight-time state champion St. Thomas Aquinas takes on Satellite Beach Satellite at 7:30 tonight.
The loss dropped Land O'Lakes to 0-3 against St. Thomas Aquinas, which has outscored the Gators 15-0 in those games.