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CLEARWATER - Earlier this season, Countryside got the better of a strong Palm Harbor University team.
Not Wednesday night.
The Hurricanes put three into the net in the first half and held off Countryside 4-1 in the Class 5A, District 9 semifinal.
Palm Harbor faces East Lake in the district championship match at 7 p.m. Friday.
"That's a very good team," Countryside coach Tony Atherholt said of the Hurricanes. "We tried to take out their two leading scorers, and we did that, but their second players came through."
The Cougars (7-8-2) took the early lead, getting a goal from Sami Striano after a run down the left wing after a pass from Katie Kent just four minutes into the match. But it didn't take PHU long to assert itself.
The Hurricanes (13-2-1) got Lizzie Wellings free on break, but her shot was stopped by keeper Kelly Nimmo. But Kelly Brinkman was there to finish the rebound and make it a 1-all game.
The 'Canes struck twice more before halftime. A corner kick from Annie Stalzer to Wellings for the header resulted in a 2-1 lead for PHU just 15 minutes into the match.
That lead expanded to 3-1 by the half, thanks to a goal by Courtney Whidden with an assist from Kelly Brinkman. The game's final goal, and the only goal of the second half, came from Stalzer on a breakaway sprung from Brinkman.
Victoria Wyandt had eight saves in goal for PHU.
"We were a little sloppy but we did what we had to do," PHU coach John Planamenta said. "A team like Countryside is always a team to worry about. It's no game to relax with."
For now, PHU hopes for another long trip into the state tournament, like last year's - only further.
5A-10: It's Devils vs. Warhawks again
ST. PETERSBURG - Emily Smith had three goals as top seed St. Petersburg (15-1-2) scored early and often to defeat Gibbs 8-0.
Andrea Rodrigues, Ali Caton and Meggie Ford each added a goal for the Green Devils.
St. Petersburg faces Seminole on Friday night at 7 for the fourth straight year in the title game. Seminole has won the past two.
"We didn't want to come out too confident for this game," St. Petersburg coach Rui Farias said. "We wanted to focus on the game against Gibbs and then handle things with Seminole on Friday."
Gibbs (5-8-1) struggled throughout. The squad entered Wednesday's game with a depleted roster because of injuries. The only meeting between Seminole and St. Petersburg this season was a scoreless tie.
Second-seeded Seminole won 3-1 over Boca Ciega in the first semifinal. Seminole got a late first-half goal from Taylor Mattox and dominated the second half defensively to earn the win.