After twice losing in the state semifinal, the Cougars win 2-0, make it to the big game.
By STEVE LEE
Published February 20, 2004
FORT LAUDERDALE - In its third straight shot at a state final, Durant finally has a chance to win a title.
And apparently moving up three classes helped.
The Cougars defeated Miami Palmetto 2-0 in Thursday's Class 6A semifinal and play Parkland Douglas at 7:30 Saturday night.
Durant (19-4-3) improved to 1-2 in the semifinals, which includes 3A losses to Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas and two-time defending state champion Satellite Beach Satellite.
"I'm the Bud Grant or Marv Levy," said Durant coach Dick Sheffield, drawing comparisons with coaches who lost four Super Bowls apiece (Grant, Minnesota Vikings; Levy, Buffalo Bills).
"You can never get into the final," Sheffield continued. "Well, not anymore. It just took more kids in our school to move up."
After a scoreless first half, Durant's Alicia Tirelli scored her 28th goal before assisting on K.K. Kelly's 10th. Tirelli has a team-high 36 assists.
Tirelli took a Gabi Rivera cross from her left just inside the penalty box, turned and drilled a 15-yard shot that went through the hands of goalkeeper Fiorella Lanfranco in the 50th minute.
"Alicia on the first goal just fought through a great body tackle," Sheffield said. "She just ripped it."
"The inside was wide open," Tirelli said. "They just left a lot of space. I saw it and I saw Gabi. She just made the perfect pass."
Tirelli set up Kelly for a goal in the 65th minute.
Kelly ran onto a through ball from Tirelli in the left corner of the box and patiently dribbled toward the net with a defender closing in from behind. Kelly froze Lanfranco by faking a shot before sidekicking the ball into the right side.
"I didn't know if (Lanfranco) was going to run out," Kelly said. "I thought she was going to come out and tackle me. When she backed up it made it a little easier."
The Cougars put two balls into Palmetto's net in the first half, but both apparent goals were negated. Brittany Tortorella's header was disallowed when a teammate was called for a foul on the play and Rivera kicked the ball into the left side on a breakaway, but that was waved off by a late offsides call.
Unlike its previous two games, region wins decided by penalty kicks, Durant had an easier time against Palmetto (16-3-2).
"It's undescribable how good it feels ... ," Kelly said.