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Gaither's gift: a berth in final

By JEREMY RASMUSSEN

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 23, 2001


TAMPA -- Travis Bourguinon celebrated his 17th birthday by scoring the game-winning goal in overtime in Gaither's 2-1 win over Miami Sunset in Thursday's Class 4A state semifinal.

With less than a minute to play in the first overtime period, David Jennings lobbed a long ball to Bourguinon, who headed it over Sunset goalie Cristhian Vellejo into the net.

"Coach told us the keeper kept coming off his line," Bourguinon said. "When (Jennings) sent the ball across, there wasn't much time to think. I saw the goalie coming off the line, and it was just instinct."

The victory sends the Cowboys (24-3-1) to the state final for the second consecutive year. Their opponent Saturday will be Orange Park (24-2-2), a 4-0 winner over Fort Lauderdale Western in the other semifinal. Gaither beat Orange Park 2-1 in overtime in last year's state semifinal.

Gaither narrowly missed going up 1-0 in the sixth minute, when Bryce Wegerle got free on a breakaway and had a one-on-one with Vallejo. Wegerle flipped a shot toward the right corner, but Vellejo got a fingertip on it to push it just wide.

After dodging the bullet, Sunset (27-2-3) went on the offensive and capitalized in the 13th minute.

Juan Giraudo and Justin Brandt charged at a loose ball in the penalty box, and both collided with Gaither goalie Jared Swindle. The ball bounced out of the pile toward the goal, where Josh Smith just missed clearing it off the goal line.

"We were getting outworked, and I told the guys at halftime, Gaither teams don't get outworked," Cowboys coach Adrian Bush said.

Two minutes into the second half, Steve Sullivan narrowly missed tying it on a long cross from Bourguinon. But Sullivan atoned for it in the 57th minute, as he took Wegerle's low, hard corner kick and put it in the back of the net to tie it at 1.

Thursday also happened to be Gaither coach Adrian Bush's 29th birthday.

"What a way to spend your whole birthday, stressing over a game," Bush said. "But as my mom told me, I wouldn't have rather have spent it any other way.

"When Travis scored that goal, he said "Happy birthday, A.B.' But I told him, "No, that's your present."'

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