By LINDA ROTHSTEIN
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 31, 2001
NEW PORT RICHEY -- In a show of unity, every member of the Ridgewood boys soccer team save one, including acting coach Tony Koutsos, dyed their hair blond for the Class 3A, District 9 tournament.
The inspiration worked as Jason Meyers scored a hat trick to lead the fifth-seeded Rams to a 4-1 victory over No. 4 seed Gulf in the first round Tuesday night at Ridgewood. "(Meyers) was hurt the first half of the season; he missed the first 10 games and I told everybody he was going to come back and play hard," Koutsos said.
Meyers started the scoring in the 10th minute of the first half when he booted in the rebound of a Gus Kalathakis shot.
Kalathakis logged another assist in the 30th minute on a goal by Francis Casey. Seven minutes after the half, Meyers extended the Rams' lead to 3-0 with his second goal. His third score followed a cross from Mark Lavelle.
Gulf's lone goal came off a penalty kick by Alex Maric with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
"They just had more intensity and they outplayed us," Gulf coach Sam Koleduk said.
Ridgewood now faces No. 1 seed Land O'Lakes on Thursday in the semifinals.
In the late game, Brian Vroman scored four goals to lift No. 3 seed Countryside to a 7-1 win over No. 6 seed East Lake.
"It's his (Vroman) first game back in about two weeks," Countryside coach David Sica said. "He's been doing well and working hard the last four or five days."
Vroman scored his first goal in the sixth minute and scored another in the 28th to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead at the break.
East Lake cut the lead to 2-1 at the 50-minute mark on a goal by Daniel Rissanen that was fed to him on a free kick from about 25 yards out.
"We're missing five starters; we've got one red card and four injuries," East Lake coach Billy Gunther said. "We stayed with them for most of it then we had two more starters that needed a break."
A 35-yard free kick by Chaseton Hobby set up Kyle Theil's header in the 62nd minute to make it 3-1. Just a minute later, Hobby netted his own goal to make it 4-1.
Vroman scored back-to-back goals in the next five minutes to put the Cougars up 6-1.
Countryside now faces No. 2 seed River Ridge in Thursday's semifinals.