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Teams continue pursuit of title

By STEVE LEE

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 21, 2001


NEW PORT RICHEY -- Six county competitive soccer teams remain in the hunt for state championships after advancing to the Region C semifinals.

The West Pasco Thunder is sending four teams to the next round while one team each has advanced from the Central Pasco Spartans and the Zephyrhills Lightning. The only girls team to win in the quarterfinals was the West Pasco under-15 team, which went 3-0-1 in the quarterfinals March 10 and 11.

Lindsey Sowder scored twice in West Pasco's opening quarterfinal game, a 2-1 defeat of the Sarasota Storm.

The Thunder also beat the Brandon Blazers 11-0 and the Lakeland Shockers 3-0 while tying the St. Petersburg Raiders 2-2.

Goalkeeper Lauren Hudson earned both shutouts and the Thunder got steady contributions from Michelle Kukec and Tiffany Vega.

"Right now, we are a very good team," West Pasco coach Karl Kukec said. "We are at a point where we can play anybody."

West Pasco plays Hillsborough United on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Lake Parker in Lakeland. The Thunder defeated United 2-1 earlier this season.

West Pasco's under-15 boys had two wins and a tie in the quarterfinals with the most exciting game coming in the opener. Dimos Kalithakis' goal in the final minute lifted West Pasco to a 2-1 win against Valrico.

The Thunder then tied Azalea in a scoreless game before defeating Temple Terrace 3-0.

Ryan Villiard had a goal in the first game and another against Temple Terrace. Cody Rainer and Glenn Josephik also scored in the Temple Terrace game.

Keeper Billy Chapman earned both shutouts thanks to strong play by defenders John Ryan Shaw, Sean Cope, Mike Alves and Nick Ferrer.

"They've done a superb job," West Pasco coach Phil Dimestico said of his defense that has limited opponents to two goals in the past five games.

West Pasco's under-9 boys team won all three of its quarterfinal matches: 4-2 against the Tampa Knights, 3-0 against the Tarpon Springs Sidekicks and 6-1 against the Temple Terrace Spirit.

Keeper Frank Slusak earned the first two victories while Robbie Wallace manned the West Pasco nets in the win over Temple Terrace.

Max Rockwell led the Thunder with four goals in the three-game series. Conner Hale added three goals and Wallace had two.

West Pasco's under-17 boys went 2-2 in its series to become one of four teams in its five-team division to advance to Saturday's semifinals.

Central Pasco's under-14 boys team defeated the Estero Storm 3-2 and the Tampa Knights 4-0, tying the Lakeland Shockers 2-2 in the quarterfinals.

The key victory, according to coach Bruce Martin, was beating the Storm, which came into the quarterfinals with a 10-0 record and had outscored its opponents 104-2.

"We were ready for that game," Martin said. "All (the Spartans) could think about was Estero, Estero."

Marcus Dixon scored the game-winner against Estero by converting a crossing pass from Dustin Stewart.

The Zephyrhills under-16 boys squad needed just two games to advance to Saturday's semifinals. The Lightning beat the East Lake Eagles 2-0 and Town & Country 6-1.

Chad Howard and Justin Chauncey scored against East Lake to back keeper Matt Prowant's shutout.

Kevin Senior had two goals against Town & Country with Tyler Ruchti, Shawn March, Steven Carmichael and A.J. Blackstone each adding a goal.

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