Pasco tight-lipped as usual about plan

Pirates, who seek a return to state semis, face a pretty tough defensive team in Crystal River.

By Izzy Gould
Published February 6, 2007

DADE CITY - Barry Grayling unzipped his lips and let a few words out.

Unfortunately, there's more substance in a cup of water. The Pasco coach has been strategically quiet during his four seasons and did not disappoint Monday afternoon.

"They read the paper up there, you know," Grayling said. "Why would I tell you what I know? That would give them an edge."

Grayling constantly thinks strategy. The England transplant refused to give the regular season any credibility. Instead, he referred to the postseason as "the real season," which carried the Pirates through an undefeated regular season.

When opposing coaches criticized Grayling for not scheduling tougher games, he brushed it off. He pointed to a pair of preseason matches to prove Pasco can hang with elite Florida clubs. Now he can point to one playoff victory, the Sunshine Athletic Conference title and another district title.

Entering tonight's game against Crystal River, which Pasco has not played during Grayling's tenure, Pasco (20-0-2) seems unfazed and confident in pursuit of another state final four berth.

Grayling sent an assistant to scout Crystal River's last game. "They're all right," Grayling said. "Let's just say they're all right."

Crystal River leans heavily on its defense made up of seniors Scott Hubbard, Jarrod Green, Sean Mulligan and Eric Swanson. Crystal River plays from the back, which should prove true tonight as Pasco forwards Jose Montelongo (30 goals), Ramon Rodriguez (33 goals) and Roberto Cervantes (24 goals) attempt to pepper senior keeper Alex Crandall, who has given Crystal River (17-3-4) stability.

Crystal River has 16 shutouts, yielded only 12 goals and played from behind just once all season.

It has some firepower with top scorer Matthew Zarek and his 17 goals. Speedy attacker Xavier Villachica has 11 of the Pirates' 70 goals on the season.

Times staff writer Kellie Dixon contributed to this report.

Fast Facts:

Boys soccer region semifinals

Class 4A: Crystal River (17-3-4) vs. Pasco (20-0-2).

Location: W.F. Edwards Stadium, Dade City.

Time: 7 tonight

How they got here: Crystal River def. St. Augustine 1-0; Pasco def. Celebration 4-0.

Who's hot: Pasco leading scorer Ramon Rodriguez scored twice in the region quarterfinal, giving the senior 33 goals in his first season. And keeper Jose Hernandez pitched his seventh shutout of the season.

Need to know: Pasco could be without midfielder Trent Sumner (knee injury). Alex Hollander played in his place last week and did well, coach Barry Grayling said.

Class 2A: Bishop McLaughlin (14-5) vs. Bradenton Saint Stephen's (16-4-2).

Time: 3:30 today

Location: Turner Fields, Bradenton.

If you go: Take Interstate 75 south to exit 228 and merge onto I-275 N. to St. Petersburg. Follow to exit 2 and take US-41 south to Manatee Ave. Turn right and follow to 41st Street. Turn right and follow to the school.

How they got here: Bishop McLaughlin def. Indian Rocks Christian 2-1; Saint Stephen's def. Admiral Farragut 5-1.

Who's hot: Hurricanes forward Matt Bronau scored his 20th goal of the season, also the winner in the region quarterfinal.

Need to know: The Hurricanes' first playoff appearance has been memorable. Advancing once more will prove tough against an opponent in its third consecutive state tournament. The Falcons are healthy after various injuries hurt them earlier in the season.