Late goal lifts Hillsborough to win

Top-seeded Hillsborough got a tougher game than expected from Plant.

By JUSTIN DARGAHI Times Correspondent
Published January 25, 2007

TAMPA - Top-seeded Hillsborough got a tougher game than expected from Plant in the Class 5A, District 10 semifinals.

The Terriers got a late breakaway goal from Gerald Johnston and held on for a 2-1 win.

The two football powerhouses played a style more suited for football. Both committed hard fouls and hard tackles. There were four yellow cards in the game.

Hillsborough (8-5-1) opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when Hamettd Acosta fired a loose ball past Panther keeper Matt Diss.

Plant (5-6-4) answered in the 59th minute when junior Will Munch did the same to Terriers keeper Kyle Vaughn.

But Johnston answered two minutes later, and Plant failed to tie.

"Johnston's goal changed the momentum right around," Hillsborough coach Steve Colborne said. "It was a great individual effort."

Each team had just seven shots on goal.

Hillsborough will face Chamberlain (11-4)in the title game after the Chiefs got a Ricky Negron goal in the 61st minute to shut out Leto 1-0.

Class 5A, District 8

Fifth-seeded Brandon gave top-seeded Wharton a first-half scare before the Wildcats' superior skill prevailed for a 5-2 victory at King.

Freedom (8-3-4) prevailed in the opening match, sprinting to a 3-0 lead and holding on for a 3-2 victory against King (5-10-3). The Patriots will play Wharton in the district final Friday night at 7.

Wharton (16-1-1) started quickly, with Ryan Asare-Bediako scoring the first of his two goals in the opening minute. But Brandon (7-6-2) got the equalizer on an own goal by Wharton.

The Eagles used that momentum to forge ahead on Raymond Tyler's goal off his chest at the 18 minute mark.

Wharton dominated play but couldn't tie the match until Alex Bartholomew's bullet from 30 yards found the far corner late in the half.

"That was huge, especially after the own goal gave them some momentum," said Wharton coach Scott Ware, who defeated his brother, veteran Brandon coach Allen Ware.

Asare-Bediako scored in the second minute of the second half to give Wharton the lead for good. Despite several acrobatic saves from Aprim, Brandon couldn't stop Wharton's aggressive attack, as Christian Silva found the net twice to conclude the scoring.

In the opener, Freedom's Michael Panter, Bobby Huertes and Brian Watson scored first-half goals for a comfortable 3-0 lead. King made the final score close with second-half goals from Andres Diaz and Jacob Cohen, but the Patriots were never seriously threatened.

"That's been our pattern all year, start fast and then shut down in the second half," Freedom coach Dennis Derflinger said. "We can't keep doing that against good teams."

Joel Poiley, Times correspondent

Class 3A-9

Soaked from head to toe on a cold, damp night, Clearwater Central Catholic sweeper Jeff Ijjas was all smiles following its district semifinal against Tampa Catholic. Moments earlier, the junior was mobbed by teammates after lifting the squad to a 1-0 overtime victory with his first career winner.

"It feels pretty awesome," Ijjas said. "But we've still got a lot of work to do."

Winning Wednesday was one thing. Taking the title Friday night will be another.

In that match, CCC faces powerful St. Petersburg Catholic, which coasted to an impressive 8-0 win over Lennard as three players - Cory Cline, Derek Roath and Adam Skonicki - had two goals each.

"We played very well," Barons coach Anatol Popovich said.

CCC (12-6-3) did as well, but had trouble finding the net despite applying heavy pressure throughout the second half. The Crusaders (8-4-2) had keeper Andrew Harrison, who recorded nine saves, to thank.

"He played fantastic," TC coach Kevin McCarron said.

Two minutes into the extra session, Ijjas received a picture-perfect pass from Brian McArdle that he headed past Harrison.

"That was a fantastic header," McCarron said.

SPC (11-1-3) looked sharp from the start and posted seven goals during a dominant 26-minute stretch against the Longhorns (5-10), a first-year program that beat Berkeley Prep the previous night.

Keith Niebuhr, Times correspondent