tampabay.com

Devils hold off the Warhawks

By C.J. RISAK
Published February 5, 2005


SEMINOLE - The final shot defined the match for defending champ Seminole. It was struck from about 22 yards out, but like nearly every other shot on the night, it soared high over the crossbar.

Seconds later, the final whistle blew and St. Petersburg captured what it had coveted at the start of this district tournament: a championship, by a 2-1 margin.

"I have been waiting for this day," screamed St. Petersburg keeper Alex Bowers. His team enters regional play with a 12-5-3 mark.

St. Petersburg earned this victory, if only for executing coach Ryan Hypio's game plan to perfection. "We knew they played with only two or three players in the back when they were on the attack, and they were very aggressive offensively," he said.

The plan was to take advantage of that aggressiveness with quick counters. The result was a pace the Warhawks (20-5-2) controlled but a scoreboard held hostage by Bowers and his St. Petersburg teammates.

"We took advantage of our opportunities," Hypio said.

The biggest example came with less than 16 minutes left. St. Petersburg was awarded a direct kick from about 28 yards out; Pete Shumate lined up to take it. His drive cleared the Seminole wall of players 10 yards away and seemed to fool keeper Matt Celmer, who slipped when he tried to snare it. The ball cleared his hands and went in to give St. Petersburg the lead for good.

"You just can't leave all that money on the table," Seminole coach Rick Masi said. "We created a lot of chances, we just didn't finish them.

"But St. Petersburg played hard, all the credit goes to them. It was just one of those things."

The Warhawks had the early lead, getting a goal from Richard Legg - his third in two district matches - in the 22nd minute. Bowers had made the initial stop but could not corral the rebound, and Legg pounced on it for the finish.