By JEREMY RASMUSSEN
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 15, 2001
TAMPA -- Bloomingdale battled back from a two-goal deficit to overcome host Gaither 3-2 on Friday and sweep a crucial district series from the Cowboys.
The Bulls suffered their first loss of the season 4-2 against Wharton on Tuesday, and it looked bleak again during the first half on Friday.
Gaither's Richard Jackson scored on a cross from Paul Reynolds, and Jared Rose nailed a free kick from 25 yards for a 2-0 lead.
Then things began to bounce the Bulls' way.
A Gaither defender failed to clear the ball out of the box and instead scored an own goal.
Then, with 3 minutes remaining in the first half, Bulls striker David Smith found the ball loose in the box following Todd Cripe's free kick and booted it home to tie the game.
Bloomingdale (7-1) scored the game-winner 8 minutes into the second half as Cripe crossed to Smith in the middle of the box for the finish.
After that, the Bulls' defense, led by goalkeeper Chris Sedlak, played aggressively and neutralized Gaither's potent offense.
Bloomingdale's first-year coach, Samuel Isajar, said he's trying to teach good soccer, and if wins come along, it's all the better. A former professional player in Colombia, Isajar said he's bringing a South American style to Bloomingdale's program.
"We have a young team with a lot of ninth- and 10th-graders," Isajar said. "So, I am just trying to teach them how to put the ball on the ground, make two-touch passes and play clean.
"Playing beautiful soccer is more important than winning. But right now, we're doing both."
The season sweep is tough to swallow for first-year Gaither coach Eric Sims.
"They were definitely more aggressive than we were," Sims said. "If you want it more, and have more heart, good things happen.
"We have to put this behind us and concentrate on going undefeated the rest of our district games and try to get back on focus for a state title."