tampabay.com

Land O'Lakes boots the Bears

Gators get the win on PKs and face River Ridge in the final.

By STEVE LEE
Published January 19, 2006


LAND O'LAKES - When it comes to penalty kicks, count on Savannah Gorman.

As a freshman, she had the winning PK in a region final against Gaither. In Wednesday's Class 5A, District 7 semifinal, her team's fate rested on her right foot. The junior delivered again with a blast to the right side that gave the host Gators a 1-0 (3-1) win over Central.

In the other semifinal, top seed River Ridge defeated Wesley Chapel, which won its first and only game this season in Tuesday's quarterfinal, 4-0. River Ridge and No. 2 Land O'Lakes square off in Friday night's title game at 7.

"It would have been really disappointing to let my team down," Gorman said. "I knew I had to do it."

Brittani Stoltz and Emily Arther also converted PKs for Land O'Lakes while Sara Butler made Central's lone PK against backup goalkeeper Sarah Saavedra, who replaced starter Stephanie Howell after regulation and two 10-minute overtimes.

"She's quick as a cat," Land O'Lakes coach Vicky King said of Saavedra, who made a diving save to her left on Central's first PK try by Jaklyn Diaz. "She practices PKs and her reflexes are awesome."

The outcome wasted a stellar effort by Central keeper Kim Brown, who made 18 saves including point-blank stops on Gorman and Stoltz.

Danielle Brown, Kim's sister, could have won it in regulation for Central, but Howell got her left hand on a breakaway bid in the 78th minute.

River Ridge relied on its scoring leader, Deanna Rossi, to clinch its first playoff berth since 2001. Rossi scored all four of the Knights' goals and has 27 on the season. Shelby Holley, Christina Smith, Tarah Bigger and Kaleigh Patri had assists for River Ridge to back Marisa Moe's shutout.

"It kind of validates the work they've put in all season," River Ridge coach Skip Glover said.

After the Knights' win, Rossi hoped for a rematch against Land O'Lakes (the teams split two games this season).

"We know we can beat them," Rossi said.