By ERIC VICIAN and SCOTT PURKS
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 2, 2001
TAMPA -- The teams met for the fourth time Thursday night. By now, they know each other pretty well and aren't too keen on keeping company with one another. The Class 3A, District 10 final echoed that sentiment.
Elbows were flying. Midfield became a shoving and tackling match for position as three yellow cards were handed out. And bodies were tumbling all over -- especially into the freshly mudded puddles from the day's rain.
In the end, King walked away with a 5-2 championship victory over Plant, and both teams walked away from sharing post-game pleasantries.
King (17-3-2), which scored four or more goals against Plant in every meeting, put the game away early. Becky Ware, Mikaela Jayashekaramurthy and Jessica Bell scored to give the Lions a 3-0 lead after the first 13 minutes.
From there, King ran away from Plant (12-6) and took advantage of the absence of Plant star Janessa Taddei. With the Panthers' leading scorer sidelined due to an injured leg, the Lions took control of the field with their speed.
Only when the action lulled did Plant's offense appear. With play stopped midway through the first half, Jaime Shelton's strong leg netted the Panthers their first goal on a direct kick from well beyond the 18. She scored again late in the game as the ball took an awkward hop over the head of King keeper Martha Walker, making the score 5-2 in the final two minutes. Jayashekaramurthy finished with a hat trick, giving coach John Ackerman a trophy in his first season.
"I'm new to this, I didn't know what to expect," said a chilly Ackerman, dripping from the post-game water dousing.
-- ERIC VICIAN
TAMPA -- Tonight's final features a rubber match of sorts, No. 1 seed East Bay versus No. 2 Tampa Catholic.
In the regular season, the Indians and Crusaders didn't split, but they did tie one game 2-2 while East Bay won 2-1 in the second.
If things hold true, especially after Thursday's resounding semifinal victories -- TC defeated Jefferson 4-0 and East Bay romped 9-0 over Blake -- tonight should be extremely competitive.
"We're certainly looking forward to it," East Bay coach Claudine Sosa said. "Both times we've played, it's been real close; anybody's game. And I think both teams are looking pretty sharp."
TC (15-5-3) spread the scoring around with Danielle Trzcinski, BethAnn Faulkner, Catherine MacMillan and Lauren Goetzman scoring. The score could have been more one-sided as the Crusaders outshot the Dragons 38-3. "We seem to finally be coming together," TC coach Rori Rushing-Braum said. "We've really been training hard the last two weeks of practice, and we've started getting more focused on certain areas of the field. I don't think we've peaked yet, but we're getting there. Tonight was encouraging."
East Bay (13-4-1) was much the same, except for the bigger score. Lisa Verbosky and Shawna Kramer had three goals apiece while Casey Smith, Alyse Migliaro and Pamela Ramirez added one each.
East Bay outshot Blake 27-1. And this despite several Indians coming off of the flu and starter Kari Carlen leaving the game early with a bruised quadriceps.
"We don't have a lot of depth, so we need to stay healthy," said Sosa, who had only three substitutes Thursday.
"Hopefully, everybody will be ready to go tonight."
-- SCOTT PURKS