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Jonathan Crouch gives Lakewood the title over Southeast.
By MEYLA HOOKER
Published February 5, 2005
ST. PETERSBURG - Jonathan Crouch didn't have a game winner for Lakewood all season.
But the junior has had many during his 12-year soccer career.
So on Friday night, Crouch, who played through severe cramping during overtime, was cool, calm and collected as he ripped the ball by Southeast keeper Matt Clark in penalty kicks to give Lakewood (10-3-2) the district title. It is the Spartans' first title in five years and second in school history.
Lakewood beat Southeast (12-6-1) 3-2 in PKs. The score was 3-all after overtime.
"I practice PKs all the time," Crouch said. "I just knew I had to make it. I've been here for three years and we hadn't won. This feels great."
Southeast, which upset defending champion Osceola on Wednesday, had a 2-1 led early in the second half before two costly penalties set up Lakewood scores.
Jorge Ramirez's goal on a free kick with 36:44 left tied the score. Less than two minutes later, Weslee Paul put the Spartans ahead by converting a PK.
"What the players did this year was just outstanding," Lakewood coach Istvan Horvath said. "We've played smart football the whole season. This is a great finish to the district, but we're not done yet."
Southeast, which outshot Lakewood 10-6, failed to capitalize on numerous easy scoring opportunities during regulation.
Lakewood had no shots during overtime. Southeast had two.
Southeast got two big saves from Clark during PKs, but kicked one ball off the left goal post and another wide right. Senior Vanguelis Pablopulos and sophomore Taylor Linkfield also scored for Lakewood in PKs.
Both teams advance to next week's region quarterfinals.