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[an error occurred while processing this directive] By ROBYN DISNEY
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 27, 2001
TAMPA -- For almost every goal Gaither scored in the Western Conference championship Friday, Plant's Bobby Boswell had an answer. Every goal, that is, except the Cowboys' third, which won the game and the championship for Gaither, 3-2. With the game tied 2-2, midfielder Brenden Crampton found midfielder Jared Rose alone in the open field and placed a pass right in front of him. Rose fired the ball past goalkeeper Loren Shumard, giving Gaither its winning margin with 13 minutes left to play.
"Brenden told me to go into the space and that the ball would be there," Rose said. "I saw it and I hit it."
Prior to Rose's goal, the momentum swung between Gaither, ranked No. 16 in the nation according to foxsports.com, and Plant, which won 10 games this season after winning only two a year ago.
The Cowboys (18-3-1) struck first in the 34th minute when Crampton headed the ball into an open goal.
But less than a minute later, Boswell fired the ball at Gaither goalie Jared Swindle. The ball glanced off Swindle's arm and into the goal, tying the game heading into halftime.
"We came out the first half flat," Rose said. "They were playing with a lot of emotion. We knew we would have to come out early in the second half."
And they did. Eight minutes into the second half, midfielder Norris Hartzog headed a Bryce Wegerle corner kick into the goal.
But like Gaither's previous lead, it wouldn't last long. Only two minutes later, Boswell would score his second goal, tying the game 2-2.
"(Boswell) is my assistant coach," Plant coach Dennis Derflinger said. "He helps me make adjustments and he kept us in the game."
But when Rose hit his target from 25 feet, not even Boswell could rally the Panthers again.
"For most of the game, we were with them every step," Derflinger said. "This shows that we can play with anyone in the country at any time."