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Six Bulls seniors keep their promise to bring home title

By MIKE READLING

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 25, 2001


TALLAHASSEE -- Just in case DeLand didn't see enough of Bloomingdale's Kim Martins and Tara Escribano during the Class 4A state title game, its players could catch a final glimpse of them mugging for photos and slapping high fives as the Bulldogs filed out of the FSU Soccer Complex and onto their bus.

The pose that had to hurt the most was the one where Martins held up the right side of the state championship trophy while Escribano lifted the left. Each flashed a huge smile before leaning over and planting a big kiss on the trophy that had eluded every girls soccer team in Hillsborough County.

That spell ran out when Escribano and Martins hooked up for the most important goal of their careers in the third minute of overtime. It was a simple goal, a header off a corner kick, but to Bloomingdale, it was the most unbelievable score of the season.

After all, it was the goal that gave the Bulls a 3-2 win and earned them the right to bring home the state title.

"This is the greatest feeling in the world," Martins said. "It's beyond great, I can't describe what it feels like."

What it feels like is the fulfillment of a promise the six Bloomingdale seniors made to themselves four years ago. They wanted a state title during their senior year and all six of them played key roles in Saturday's championship. Lyndi Bernhisel halted numerous DeLand scoring attempts on defense, Amber Littleton and Meghan Lyons steadied the midfield and Lyndrea Sutherland returned from a second-half injury to shore up an offense that took 17 shots on goal.

However, none of the seniors were more important on offense than Martins and Escribano.

The duo, which began the season by either scoring or assisting each other on the first five goals Bloomingdale scored, finished the same way.

Escribano scored first on an assist by Martins. Then Escribano returned the favor to her teammate before scoring her second goal on another Martins' assist.

"It's been that way all year," Bloomingdale coach Sue Peet said. "They're both powerful players."

Bloomingdale, which finished the season 21-2-4, took a 1-0 lead when Escribano ripped a shot from 30 yards out into the upper right corner of the net with 28:34 to play in the first half.

DeLand (22-5-2) waited until the midway point of the second half to tie the score when Sarah Stock poked a shot over the top of goalkeeper Megan Robey.

Then the unheard of happened with 9:15 to go in regulation.

DeLand, which had never advanced past the region quarterfinals, had not won a state championship in any sport since 1984 and was trying to become the first Volusia County school to win a girls soccer title, took the lead.

Amber Otto volleyed in a deflected Courtney Lillvis corner kick from just inside the penalty box for a 2-1 advantage.

Forced to turn up the offensive pressure, the Bulls tied it 16 seconds later when Martins took a pass from Escribano, dribbled a couple of times and blew a shot far post from 10 yards away.

The game ended in a 2-2 tie but Bloomingdale wasted just more than two minutes before Escribano headed in Martins' corner kick for the winning goal.

"We weren't going to drive five hours to lose this game," Martins said.

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