tampabay.com

Gators survive on PKs

By MIKE TOMPKINS
Published February 5, 2005


With the game on the line, and Mitchell down to its last penalty kick, Land O'Lakes' Kyle Boerner deflected Zachary Cross' attempt, propelling the Gators to a thrilling 2-1 victory over Mitchell.

A 1-all tie was in place after regulation and two sudden-death overtimes, before Land O'Lakes won in the penalty kick round 4-3.

"It's the keeper's mind," Boerner said. "Look at their feet, look at their body language. Sometimes it's a guessing game. I guessed right." It was the Gators' fourth district title in the seven-year tenure of coach Mark Pearson, and their first since 2002.

"I;m extremely happy with my guys," Pearson said. "My seniors really stepped up when they needed to. They did a great job. The bottom line is they made the difference."

Land O'Lakes (15-3-2) came out flat, as the Mustangs controlled the tempo and field position for most of the first half. The Mustangs jumped to a 1-0 lead on a goal by junior midfielder J.D. Barksdale at the midway point of the first half. Freshman forward Bradley Chapman sent a crossing shot across the box. Boerner dove and punched the ball, but punched it directly to Barksdale, who headed it into the empty net.

"We came out very flat in the first half," Pearson said. "Mitchell was on top of us for a very long period of time. It wasn't until the final 10 minutes of the first half that we settled down."

Land O'Lakes appeared plenty settled in the second half, as it finally began winning possession and garnering scoring opportunities. After some narrow misses and great saves by Matt Wegener, Land O'Lakes finally found the back of the net on a goal by Josh Chan. After a feed from Ryan O'Connell, Chan outraced Wegener, crossed from his right to left foot and finished off a phenomenal play with an easy goal. "What a great game," Mitchell coach Pio Rizzo said. "I have never been more proud of a group of players. They have nothing to be ashamed of. They played their hearts out."