Girls soccer: Class 6A, District 7

By DAVID MURPHY, Times Staff Writer
Published January 17, 2008

NEW PORT RICHEY - They call her "Brick Wall." And after Cristina Brabson's game-saving performance in the Class 6A, District 7 semifinals, it's easy to see why. The Countryside goalkeeper stopped two penalty kicks, one in regulation and one in penalty kicks, as the top-seeded Cougars beat Sickles 2-1 Wednesday and ruined a gutsy comeback by the fifth-seeded Gryphons.

"I look at their hips," Brabson said of her strategy. "I don't even look at their eyes."

The game featured gusting winds, a 911 call, a buzzer-beating game-tying goal and two scoreless overtimes, but for about 70 minutes, it was a ho-hum affair. Countryside (10-1-1) took a 1-0 lead midway through the first half on a goal by senior midfielder Katie Kent.

With 10:52 remaining Countryside was called for a foul in the box, leading to a Sickles (9-4-1) penalty kick. But Brabson made the first of two big saves, stuffing midfielder Keena Tsitsikronis' attempt.

Tsitsikronis later made amends, scoring on a free kick with three seconds remaining to send the game into overtime. The free kick was set up by a nasty collision between Kent and Sickles forward Kaely Roth. An ambulance was called to take Roth to a hospital for apparent arm and shoulder injuries.

The teams played two uneventful overtimes. Countryside made all four of its attempts during penalty kicks, including the game-clincher by Chelsea Buck.

The Cougars will face Mitchell, which defeated Alonso 1-0, in the 6A-7 championship Friday.

For more on the Mitchell-Alonso semifinal, check out highschool.tampabay.com.