The Spongers make all four kicks to defeat Daytona Beach Seabreeze 3-2 for its first championship.
By LAURA LEE
Published February 22, 2004
FORT LAUDERDALE - Tarpon Springs was perfect when it counted.
Never completely in control, the Spongers led, trailed and tied Daytona Beach Seabreeze in Saturday's Class 4A state final. And despite being outshot 20-12 through regulation, overtime and sudden death, the Spongers didn't miss in penalty kicks.
The final moments belonged to the Spongers, who won 3-2 (4-2) in penalty kicks.
"It was give and take," Tarpon senior Libby Gianeskis said. "They had their moments. We had ours."
The team's seven seniors accepted Tarpon's first girls state championship trophy, finishing their high school careers as winners.
"It was amazing," Tarpon coach John Freiermuth said. "I couldn't even tell you scored the two goals for us. So much excitement. Such an emotional roller coaster. I was just so proud the girls never gave up."
Freiermuth would like to think his motivation tactics helped. He had the team run its fingers across the 1984 and 1985 Tarpon Springs boys state soccer title trophies during practice. On the bus ride south, he passed around pictures of the team after last year's state final four experience. Flattened players on the field, tears, devastation.
Senior Lindsay Brauer scored the first shot for Seabreeze (25-4-0), but the Sandcrabs' second penalty kick went wide right. Tarpon goalkeeper Alexia Berg stopped the third, which rolled down the middle of the box into her arms. Gianeskis, Ashley Jeffris, Paige Beyer and Rebecca Smith all made their penalty shots.
"How about the miracle of rubbing the boys trophy?" Freiermuth asked after the game. "There was a little magic there for us."
After playing to a scoreless halftime, the Spongers (20-3) took the lead when Gianeskis scored on a curving free kick 19 yards out in the 44th minute. The game was tied four minutes later when Seabreeze senior Lindsay Brauer knocked in a shot from the center of the box from 12 yards out.
After Brauer scored in the first minute of overtime, the Spongers got a goal less than a minute later when Paige Beyer sent a corner kick to her sister, Jordan Beyer, who was waiting in the box for the header.
Neither team could end the game in the sudden death periods. And as they got ready for penalty kicks, officials set the trophy table up on the field.
"I had complete faith in our team," Gianeskis said. "We had the heart for this game and we wanted it so bad."
Durant loses lead, 6A final
FORT LAUDERDALE - Durant has qualified for the playoffs in eight of its nine seasons but never had been this close to a state title.
And unlike its previous three state berths, the Cougars reached the final.
A storybook season to Durant's best season, however, still lacks a happy ending after Parkland Douglas' 3-2 comeback victory in the 6A final.