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St. Petersburg fails to hang on

The Green Devils' 2-0 halftime lead becomes a 3-2 overtime loss to Lake Mary in a 6A semifinal.

By JOHN C. COTEY
Published February 10, 2006


FORT LAUDERDALE - St. Petersburg's first trip to the state semifinals could not have started any better with two first-half goals despite it's best scorer being slowed by illness and their second-best out after 20 minutes with an ankle injury.

It could not have ended any worse.

The Green Devils withered in the second half as a relentless Lake Mary attack produced two goals to tie and a third in overtime to capture a 3-2 victory in a Class 6A state semifinal at Lockhart Stadium. The collapse came at the expense of the vaunted Green Devil defense, which had allowed only four opponents to score this season and none more than twice. But the Rams (19-4-1) took over in the second half, not allowing St. Petersburg (17-2) past midfield for the first five minutes and plowing through the Green Devil defense.

"Maybe we relaxed a little with a 2-0 lead," senior sweeper Meggie Ford said. "We sat back and didn't try to do too much, and, well, that didn't work."

Lake Mary tied it with nine minutes left when Katie Donnellan served a corner kick to Rachel Brown, whose header got past Alisa Tripolino.

In the second overtime, an almost identical play won it for the Rams as Donnellan again found the head of a teammate, Ashley Miller, who cleanly placed the ball to the back corner of the net.

"They threw everything at us," St. Petersburg coach Rui Farias said. "When you get two goals off set pieces, those are tough to defend, especially when they had a height advantage."

The Green Devils seemed to be in control at halftime after freshman Trish Brunk scored her first high school goal, booting in a ball off Andrea Rodrigues' corner kick, and Hanna Bunbury scored on a breakaway just before the break.

"In the locker room at halftime, I thought this is it. We've got this," Rodrigues said. "A 2-0 lead? I thought, "Dang, we're doing pretty good."'

But that was all St. Petersburg had offensively.

Rodrigues (17 goals) woke up with hives and had to be substituted for twice due to illness (and an excellent marking job by the bigger and faster Meagan Eissele). Nadira Jibreal (nine goals) had to be carted off after being taking down on her second breakaway of the game in the 20th minute.

She returned for overtime, but by then, it was too late to slow down the Rams.