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Keepers of the 'Canes' fortunes

Goalies Monica Lee and Victoria Wyandt share time and shut down opponents.

By BRANDON WRIGHT
Published February 8, 2007


PALM HARBOR - Is it a gift or a curse?

While some teams scramble to field a decent goalkeeper, Palm Harbor University has a pair of talented ones. But only one can wear the keeper jersey at a time.

Coach John Planamenta's solution? "I sat them down before last year and laid out a plan," he said. "I proposed playing them each a half."

In theory that sounds great, but would it be possible to get two competitive, skillful players to agree to such a strategy and put egos aside?

"They both bought into it," Planamenta said. "It's a special situation because both are so talented."

Monica Lee and Victoria Wyandt's ability to coexist in such a strange arrangement has been one of the key reasons the Hurricanes are playing in their fourth consecutive final four when PHU 20-1-0 meets Niceville (21-1-0) today at 2 p.m. at Lockhart Stadium.

"We've never had a problem with it," Wyandt said. "I'd rather sit a half and win than play all the time and not be as good as we are."

And the duo has been just that, combining to surrender only five goals this season. They have yet to give up more than one goal in a match and Lee hasn't been scored on all season.

"It's actually a little less stressful this way," Lee said. "We totally have faith in each other."

Need more proof of their selflessness? Before senior night this year, Planamenta worried how he would tell Lee that Wyandt would play the full match.

"And before I could get anything out, Mon(ica) says 'I know Coach, Vic(toria)'s playing tonight.' That's just how they are."

And both keepers got a bit of good news last Friday with the return of sweeper Cina Salemi, who had been out since the end of the regular season with an ankle injury.

Salemi's return allows Ellycia Colon to move back to stopper and frees Kelly Brinkman to return to the midfield, making PHU's attack that much more dangerous. Combine all that with outstanding marking backs Katelyn Whidden and Chelsea Licht and it's enough to see why Planamenta views it as a gift.

"To be honest, I'm lucky," Planamenta said. "This defense is coming together at the right time."

Brandon Wright can be reached at bwright@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2216.