Weather, result favor Cougars

Cougars defeated the Rams 3-0.

By JARRETT GUTHRIE Times Correspondent
Published January 25, 2007

DURANT - From kickoff, the steady rain was unrelenting, as was Durant's offensive ball control. The Cougars tripled the number of shots on goal by Sarasota Riverview and defeated the Rams 3-0 at the Ron Frost Sports Complex on Wednesday.

The Cougars' first goal came in the 31st minute after Rams keeper Bill Vitetta slipped defending a corner kick. It resulted in Freeman Bass' first goal of the season.

"We took advantage of the wet conditions all game," Durant coach Jamin Hollingsworth said. "We had no slipups all game."

The Cougars (11-3-3) continued to keep the ball on the Rams' (12-10-4) side of the pitch in the second half. And Vitetta allowed a second goal when he punched away a shot from Durant's David Gonzalez to a waiting Cecil Clarke, who drove the ball into the back of the net with a header.

Gonzalez later scored on a header in stoppage time.

In the first semifinal, Sarasota (21-2-2) defeated Lakeland (8-10-3) 4-0 with two goals in each half. Sarasota's win sets up a final between the Sailors and Cougars Friday night at 7 at Durant. The teams played to a 0-0 tie on Nov. 17 in their only regular-season meeting.

Class 6A, District 7

NEW PORT RICHEY - No love for Alonso, no problem.

"No pressure either," said Ravens junior goalkeeper Nick Hall. "Going into these games everybody knew we don't get looked at much and so we all just felt like there was absolutely no pressure on us and we can win."

And they did, as a sixth seed, 4-1 over Gaither in Wednesday night's early semifinal at Mitchell.

About that pressure, though. "My heart was pounding there for a while," added Hall after highlighting the win with key saves in the second half. "They were coming after us heavy."

Heavy, but undermanned. Down just a goal out of intermission, Ben Foerstner and Fernando Gonzalez were handed almost simultaneous yellows, the second of the night for each, and walked off the field to give Alonso a two-man advantage for the remainder of the game. Despite it, the Cowboys managed to attack with Brendan Howard, who scored the game's first goal a few minutes into the match, and Trent Anderson. Each got decent looks inside the box late in the game.

Enter Nick Hall.

"He was the difference maker," said Ravens coach Ray DiPompo. "It was truly a total team win for us, but he made some great saves out there to give our team a win."

Chad Estep and Tristan Velez scored back-to-back goals shortly after Howard's game-opener.

Running from behind with just eight field players finally caught up with Gaither (16-5-2). With four-minutes left, Mark Salamone's chip up front to Julio Perez was just out of the Cowboys' reach, and Perez finished with a one-timer across his body that bounced off keeper David Cobb. Velez then added a cleanup goal. Alonso (16-4-2) now faces Countryside (25-0-1) the nation's No.1-ranked team according to the National Scoccer Coaches Association of America, in Friday's final.

Eric Muskatevc, Times correspondent