Hillsborough boys get the best of their Pinellas counterparts

Published March 4, 2006

CLEARWATER - Pinellas County can lay claim to a pair of boys' state championships this season, but for at least one night, Hillsborough reigned supreme.

Team Hillsborough scored five unanswered goals in the second half to defeat Team Pinellas 5-2 in the boys match at the 13th Annual Senior Soccer Challenge at Countryside High.

"You play for pride, but it's an all star game so it's all for fun," Pinellas and Palm Harbor University coach Mike Mannino said. "Me and (Countryside coach) Dave (Sica) joked on the bench that we'll trade an all-star win for a couple of championships any day."

Pinellas fared much better in the girls match, defeating Team Hillsborough 2-0.

"This is just a great chance for the kids to get out here and play one last high school game," Pinellas and Clearwater Central Catholic coach Tom Typrowicz said. "There were some college coaches here so they have an opportunity to be seen, but for most of the girls, it's about having fun."

About a dozen colleges were represented at the doubleheader and the teams weren't the only winners. A scholarship worth $1,000 was handed out to a boys and girls player from each county. Vanessa Rangel (Freedom), Josh Tuch (Hillsborough), Liz Wellings (Palm Harbor) and Matt Davis (East Lake) each were awarded the scholarships for an essay writing contest.

"It's all about the kids here tonight," Sica said. "Any way we as coaches can give back is awesome."

Most Valuable Players also received $250 each for their performance. Caitlin Howard (Sickles), Annie Stalzer (PHU), David Pollard (Seminole) and Sergio Ramos (Leto) took home the honors.

"I'll probably give half (the money) to my mom because she does everything for me," Ramos said. "Getting the MVP is just amazing."

Pollard got loose in the box and put Pinellas up 1-0 in the 15th minute and the score remained that way until halftime. But after the break, Hillsborough came out firing. Ogi Perucica (Wharton) got the equalizer in the 46th minute and Eddie Ababio (Gaither) gave Hillsborough the lead 12 minutes later off a free kick from 23 yards out.

Hillsborough then scored three goals in a seven-minute stretch to open a commanding lead. Mike Swackhammer (East Bay) scored on an assist from Ramos and Adam Keaton (Wharton) followed with a pair of strikes. Nate Wysk (PHU) headed in Pinellas' other goal off a feed from Pollard in the 88th minute.

Chelsea Brinkman (PHU) scored an unassisted goal and Kasey Boston (Dunedin) got the other off a Stalzer assist for the Pinellas girls.