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Simple plan, stellar result

Perfect execution and three goals by Annie Stalzer carry PHU past Lakewood Ranch 4-0.

By MEYLA HOOKER
Published February 9, 2005


BRADENTON - Palm Harbor University's scouting report on Lakewood Ranch was perfect.

Its game plan? Flawless.

All the Hurricanes had to do was finish.

PHU (16-2-1) did just that as it hovered around the opposition's goal all night on its way to routing the Mustangs 4-0.

Senior forward Annie Stalzer and PHU's backline made it look easy.

Stalzer earned her first hat trick this season with three first-half goals. PHU's defense held the Mustangs to one shot.

Hurricanes coach John Planamenta knew Lakewood Ranch's defense was no match for Stalzer and forward Courtney Whidden's speed.

"I told all the girls at halftime that, no matter the outcome, I was proud of them for doing exactly what we asked," Planamenta said. "Every aspect that we drew up was executed perfectly. Annie and Courtney are so fast we knew they'd have easy one-on-one opportunities."

Stalzer wasted no time showing just how much faster she was than every defender on the field. With 38:50 left in the first half Stalzer beat three defenders and fired a rocket from the right side off the hands of the keeper for PHU's first goal. Eight minutes later she converted on an almost identical play from the middle of the penalty box. Her third score came just before halftime when a high shot bounced off the top of the goal back to Stalzer, who sneaked it past the diving keeper.

"We were so focused going into this game," Stalzer said. "We talked about taking advantage of the defense they were running and finishing when we got the opportunities. We want to get back to the final four so bad."

Whidden, who was slowed by an ankle injury, had the Hurricanes' other goal.

PHU, ranked fifth in the state 5A poll, has outscored opponents 10-0 in its last three games. No. 9 Lakewood Ranch finished 19-2-2.

Meyla Hooker can be reached by calling 727-445-4224 or e-mail her at mhooker@sptimes.com