Boys soccer: Cowboys prevail in crunch time

By DOUG KATES, Times Correspondent
Published January 26, 2008

CLEARWATER - Down 2-1 with under 10 minutes to go in the Class 6A-7 championship, Gaither coach Eric Sims decided to take a chance.

He moved midfielder Steven Tobon up to the front line and hoped to give his offense a late spark. The move paid off better than expected. With about nine minutes to play, Tobon scored his ninth goal of the season to tie, and four minutes later Richard Kerster knocked in his sixth goal of the season for a come-from-behind 3-2 victory. Gaither claimed its first district title in four years

"It was a great win to be able to come back," Sims said. "If we were to lose 2-1 or 3-1 it didn't matter. We were just trying to score goals. We put (Tobon) in there and less than a minute later he scored. That was a gamble we took."

Gaither lost 4-1 to Alonso during the regular season, but Friday night jumped out to a 1-0 lead on the first shot of the game; Darnell King netted his 23rd goal of the season. The Ravens (21-6-4), the No. 1 seed, tied it when Simon Gomez scored his 19th goal, and in the second half Julio Perez gained the lead when he scored his 29th.

"Steven is one of the better players around and he's always going to cause problems no matter where he is," Sims said.

"That was big time," Tobon said. "I had to score. (Coach) didn't put me up there for no reason. I saw a great ball over the top, keeper missed it and I ran through and score. I hit it perfectly."

Gaither 3 Alonso 2