Late goal puts Durant in final

Published January 19, 2006

DURANT - With less than two minutes left in the game, Durant freshman forward Caitlin Dever nailed the Cougars' second goal of the night, pulling off a 2-1 Class 6A, District 8 victory against East Ba.

"We had one on top and everyone else in the back," Durant coach Ron Evans said. "We just kept pressing and pressing. And I'm just glad (Dever) had the composure to put in the there."

The match was marred by eight yellow cards across each team and a red card ejection each. That forced Durant (10-4-5) to play down a player for several minutes at the end, but the Cougars maintained their composure and struck for a winning goal in the closing minutes.

"It was a heart-breaker," was all East Bay coach Claudine Sosa would say of the game.

Durant struck first in the opening half when Trinity Thompson drove past defenders and around the keeper, placing the ball lightly in the corner of the goal. The rest of the half was a defensive struggle for both teams, and after a brief injury stoppage for Cougars forward Lisa Hayman (ankle injury), the half ended 1-0. Evans said Hayman rolled her ankle and he did not know her status for Friday's game.

In the second half, the Indians (8-6-1) evened the score on a Lauren Verbosky goal.

But as time ran out, East Bay was unable to stop the goal from Dever and the Cougars advanced to the final.

"We were pressing really hard," Evans said. "The cardiac kids as usual."

In the first match of the night, Sarasota Riverview (17-3-4), led by goals from Jackie Carlson and Natalie Sherk, defeated the Riverview Sharks 2-1.

The Rams face Durant in the final Friday night at 7.

6A-7: Sickles to meet St. Petersburg in title game

NEW PORT RICHEY - Deflated, exhausted, and low on able legs, Gaither scored twice on defending champion Sickles in the late minutes to ease the pain of their 6-2 loss in the late semifinal game at Mitchell.

St. Petersburg cleanly took care of Countryside 5-0 in the early game.

After their 120-minute win over Mitchell on Tuesday, the Cowboys went down 3-0 by halftime on Wednesday, with no help from Gaither-transfer Kaely Roth, who scored her first of two goals before intermission. Sara Locklear and Angie Torres both scored before that.

"We knew what Gaither was really capable of. If you let them come out and win, they will," said Sickles coach George Arroyo, who has the Gryphons (12-2-0) back on the same playoff road as last year's state semifinal team. "Obviously, Kaely was pumped for this one."

Melanie Raimo made three saves for Sickles, and besides the two goals from Gaither's Jo Dragotta and Sam Meek in the game's last 20 minutes, the ball was played mostly on the Cowboys' (6-1-9) side. Ashley Middleton (one assist) and Mary Raimo added second-half goals, and Chelsea Wright also recorded an assist.

The Green Devils (13-0-2) needed little time as well, with a Nadira Jibrael netter three minutes into their match with the Cougars (8-1-9). Andrea Rodrigues scored back-to-back goals before halftime, with St. Petersburg leading 3-0.

"We play defensively as a team really well. We've been playing well all season long, but we play defense as a team. All 11 players are in on defense," Devils coach Rui Farias said.

Alisa Tripolino recorded another shutout in goal for St. Petersburg, which faces the only team to beat them besides Palm Harbor U. - Sickles - on Friday.

- ERIC MUSKATEVC, Times correspondent