Marauders, Barons oust Hillsborough foes

Clearwater Central Catholic sweeper gives team a 1-0 overtime victory.

By KEITH NIEBUHR Times Correspondent
Published January 25, 2007

TAMPA - Soaked from head to toe on a cold, damp night, Clearwater Central Catholic sweeper Jeff Ijjas was all smiles following Wednesday's district semifinal against Tampa Catholic. Moments earlier, the junior was mobbed by teammates after lifting them 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 putting heavy pressure on the TC defense throughout the second half. For that, the Crusaders (8-4-2) had keeper Andrew Harrison, who recorded nine saves, to thank.

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

It wasn't enough.

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

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

"We wanted to move the ball quickly, and we did," Popovich said.

Class 6A, District 7

NEW PORT RICHEY - Countryside's No. 1 ranking by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America doesn't mean squad to Countryside coach Dave Sica.

In fact, the only numbers that mean anything to him are those coming out of the district and regional tournaments.

"It's survival time right now," Sica said. "We're living to fight another day."

Countryside fought just hard enough for an early goal at Mitchell before holding on for a 1-0 win.

"We did enough," said Sica.

At the 20-minute mark, Juan Rivas made a quick move down the right sideline and laced a cross pass to the feet of Jake Gerlach, who scored from 7 yards.

Equally as impressive was Eddie Lopez, Mike Guiliano, and Eric Barnes, who together played their best games of the season, said Sica.

Jeff Attinella was stellar in goal with four saves, including two split-second stops on a series of shots from Mitchell (14-7-3) early in the match. Kyle Kuhlman and Chris Taylor had quality minutes at the midfield and forward positions for the Cougars (25-0-1).

"We didn't finish that well. We have to go out (today) and practice and play even better in our next game," said Sica. "We don't want to travel and we don't want to take any unnecessary steps to getting to where we want to be.

"Again, it's a live-to-fight-another-day thing, and we know that."

Eric Muskatevc, Times correspondent