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Gators soccer has bright future

By STEVE LEE

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 14, 2000


LAND O'LAKES -- Coach Mark Pearson has been instrumental in turning around Land O'Lakes' boys soccer program, which struggled for a decade before back-to-back state tournament appearances.

Now the Land O'Lakes coach is doing his best to keep the talent level at a premium.

Pearson's Under-15 team, the Central Pasco United Soccer Association Spartans, won a divisional championship in the Lakeland Memorial Day tournament. The team featured a handful of players from the Land O'Lakes program. Part of the reason for the Spartans' 3-1 record in Lakeland was Pearson's belief in his players, said Karen Martin, a former CPUSA vice president whose son, Eric, plays for the Spartans and the Land O'Lakes varsity team.

"Mark had faith in them when they didn't have faith in themselves," Martin said.

Facing elimination after a 1-0 win over Palm Beach United and a 5-0 loss to the Coral Estate Rams, the Spartans were tied at 1 with F.C. America Omni.

Andrew Falcon, who played at Pine View last season and will be a freshman at Land O'Lakes this fall, netted the game-winner in the second round of penalty kicks.

Tray Martin, Andrew Phillips and Keith Strand converted penalty kicks in the first round. "I asked who wanted to take (the first PK in the second round), and (Falcon) stepped up and said, "I'll take it,"' Pearson said. The Spartans then defeated Coral Estate 3-2 in the final on goals by Phillips, Johnny Wobensmith and Phillip Mosely.

"I told the guys before the last game that this is the last chance, and they took it to heart," Pearson said.

BULLETS ARE BEST: The Hudson Silver Bullets also won a soccer tournament during Memorial Day weekend, going 4-0 in the U-10 bracket of the Fourth Annual Nature Coast tournament in Spring Hill.

The Silver Bullets defeated the Citrus Hurricanes 2-0 for the championship.

Hudson also shut out Citrus 2-0 in its second game.

Ryan Fluke had four goals and two assists for Hudson, which also topped the Largo Gators 8-3 and the Hernando Thunderbolts 3-1. A.J. Zandecki and Adam Schoendorf contributed three goals for the Silver Bullets with Zandecki adding five assists.

Hudson's Alex Banas chipped in with two goals, and Karl Pursley scored once. Rounding out the scoring with an assist each were Lindsay Zullo, Scotty Combs and Zach Altenburg.

Defender Charlie Webster helped hold Hudson foes to just 10 shots in four games. Behind Webster, starting goalkeeper Peter Leprich allowed only three goals.

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