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Pirates in new territory

Pasco earns its first state semifinal berth, 2-0 over St. Augustine.

By STEVE LEE
Published February 11, 2006


ST. AUGUSTINE - His mission accomplished, Pasco's Jose Montelongo watched from the bench as the last seven minutes ticked off the clock.

But when the referee's whistle blew three times, signaling the end of Friday's Class 4A region final, there was no keeping him down.

A left thigh injury could not prevent Montelongo from joining his teammates at midfield for a postgame celebration after a 2-0 triumph over St. Augustine.

"I wanted to be there at the end, but it turned out I couldn't because of my injury," said the sophomore striker, who had a goal and an assist to help the Pirates earn their first state berth in school history. "I had a feeling we were going (to state)."

As has often been the case with the county's most prolific scorer, Montelongo was there when it counted most. He snapped a scoreless tie with his 43rd goal on a penalty kick in the 52nd minute. That shot, inside the right post, came after Garibaldi Alejandre was pulled down from behind inside the penalty box.

"I put it right in the corner where I had to put it," Montelongo said.

Montelongo set up Pasco's second goal in the 70th minute by beating St. Augustine goalkeeper John Fraser to the ball inside the small box and kicking it high, but not over the crossbar. As the ball came down, Roberto Cervantes raced in to head it into an empty net for his 26th goal.

Three-time district champion Pasco (24-1-1) will play in the state semifinals that begin Friday at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

Like Pasco, St. Augustine (18-7-3) played its first region final Friday.

"The final four was our goal," Pasco coach Barry Grayling said after being doused with water by his players. "The second half, I think we wanted it more.

"We just kept plugging away. We tried to score early, but (Fraser is) a good keeper. When that second goal went in, I think that was their finish right there."

Pasco keeper Luis Hernandez made 11 saves en route to his fifth shutout.

"The first half, I thought they were going to get to me," said Hernandez, a senior and third-year starter. "I had to play my game. I had to step it up for the school."