CLEARWATER - At halftime, there was concern. And not just on the St. Petersburg sideline, though the Green Devils were trailing Seminole 2-0 in the final of the Clearwater Classic Gold Division.
Still, Seminole soccer coach Rick Masi was unsure that lead was safe. "I told the boys we needed a three-goal lead at halftime because of the wind," Masi said, referring to a strong northerly breeze.
Another concern: The Warhawks had played earlier, while St. Petersburg's game had been canceled. That meant a danger of Seminole wearing down.
But that didn't happen. Instead, Seminole (6-0-1) scored twice in a 90-second span and frustrated the Green Devils' offense to win 4-0.
"It was a good team effort, we played like a team," said Masi. "This game is always a big rivalry. We're in the same district. But I thought when we scored that third goal, it took the wind out of them."
That score belonged to Simone Orlandi, who finished a pass from Bryan Masem. About 90 seconds later, the Warhawks extended their lead to 4-0 when Noah Grimes took a cross from John Mott inside the box and scored.
"I liked the way we attacked the open space," said Masi.
St. Petersburg had two players red-carded and several others with yellows in a match that also featured a few players with bloodied faces.
Seminole scored twice off set plays in the first half, with Richard Legg getting both. The first came on a direct kick; the second on a penalty kick.
Keeper Matt Selmer and the Warhawk defense made that lead stand up. Dan Sullivan and T.J. Grzeskowski also spent time in goal for Seminole.
In the Red Division final played earlier at the Countryside Sports Center, Gaither defeated Jesuit 2-0.Bloomingdale takes title
CLEARWATER - The competition thinned as the girls division of the Clearwater Challenge began Friday and carried over to Saturday. Event officials had eight schools scheduled to play the two-day tournament at Clearwater Central Catholic but two schools backed out early and Lakeland Christian and Alonso were no-shows Friday morning.
"That was our first notification there was a problem," said Challenge commissioner Sandy Parker. "When two schools didn't show up, we had to change the format of the tournament."
Using a point system, the four schools played a round-robin and decided a tournament champion without a championship game. On Friday Seminole squeezed by CCC 1-0 but later fell to eventual champions Bloomingdale by the same score. CCC ended Friday's play with a 0-0 tie against Durant.
Seminole secured second in its only game Saturday, a 1-0 win over Durant, giving the Warhawks 16 total points and two wins. Bloomingdale garnered 25 total points and stayed perfect in the tourney with a 2-1 win over the Marauders.
"It's a model the top tournaments designed and use," said Parker, also a board member for the Tampa Bay Sun Bowl. "Six points for a win. Three for a tie. Zero for a loss. And one point for each goal up to three goals per game along with one point for a shutout."
Both CCC and Durant finished with five points.
- ERIC MUSKATEVC, Times correspondent