tampabay.com

Fourth time just as sweet

PHU wins it fourth consecutive district title, 2-1 over Countryside.

By JOHN C. COTEY
Published February 5, 2005


EAST LAKE - Though his team was the three-time defending district champion, Palm Harbor University coach Juan Pablo Pinzon convinced his players they were more underdog challenger than team to beat.

He cited a newspaper article that predicted Clearwater would beat his team to make the final. He said Countryside, the district favorite, had already beaten his team. He pointed out he was missing three starters and tinkering with a lineup that has yet to gel.

PHU wasn't favored, but it was fortunate, dominating the second half and winning a fourth straight district title with a 2-1 win over No. 1 seed Countryside.

The Hurricanes (19-4-3) will host Seminole Thursday in their playoff opener, a rematch of last year's region championship won by the Warhawks. Countryside (19-2-3) will travel to St. Petersburg, a rematch of last week's Pinellas County Athletic Championship game won by the Cougars.

The Hurricanes, who trailed 1-0 at halftime on a David Martinez goal, played a much more aggressive second half. It tied the score in the 44th minute when a flick by Cameron Miller off a corner kick deflected off a post and then off a Cougar.

It took a couple of nice saves by Cougar keeper Jeffrey Attinella to keep it tied as the Hurricanes continued to pressure Countryside. With 11 minutes remaining, PHU's Foday Kamara was knocked down in the box by Mike Guiliano, and Shane Burroughs went low and left with his winning penalty kick. Countryside (19-2-3) fiercely disputed the decisive call.

"In the first half I think we were a little nervous," Pinzon said. "That early goal by Countryside put us on our heels. But we knew coming in you have to put pressure on them. If you don't, they'll just attack you all game. That's what was happening in the first half."

The Cougars' best late chance, a shot by Scott Vroman, grazed the post with 30 seconds left.