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Lions cruise past Panthers for top seed

King plays just like it did in its earlier victory over Plant.

By ERIC VICIAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 20, 2001


TAMPA -- Certain principles hold true when King faces Plant.

You can count on an up-tempo game loaded with physical play. These teams don't care too much for one another, and neither the Lions nor the Panthers are afraid to express that unwritten creed.

The first time they met, the Lions' in-your-face style produced a 4-1 victory. Friday, the teams met again with the regular-season district crown on the line.

In near identical fashion, King handed Plant another 4-1 defeat and claimed the No. 1 seed for the Class 3A, District 10 tournament, which begins next week.

Once again, King (13-3-2) knew that if it could shut down the Panthers' leading scorer, Janessa Taddei, it would have a good shot at victory.

While the Lions allowed Taddei to roam free for the most part, they attacked every Panther as soon as she got the ball.

King scored a pair of goals in each half and, behind the goaltending of Martha Walker, frustrated Taddei and the Panthers, keeping them off of the scoreboard until the 73rd minute.

That's when Taddei pushed a left-footed shot into the back of the net to prevent the shutout.

"When it comes time for the game, this team gets together," said a partially doused Lions coach John Ackerman, who is in his first season at King.

Ackerman shuffled his lineup a bit for senior night and said he was impressed with the way his reserves responded.

Senior Mellisa McCorkle's first goal of the season put the Lions up 1-0 and set the tone 10 minutes into the game. Kelly Owen, the Lions' leading scorer, chipped in with an assist on the first of Becky Ware's two goals.

Ackerman also pointed to Lindsay Hanke, Ashley James and sophomore reserve Meera Rao for providing timely sparks to the Lions' attack.

Megan Johnson scored the other Lions goal as King repeatedly caught the Panthers flat-footed.

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