TAMPA – Newsome goalkeeper Teena Fehling saved all three Clearwater Central Catholic shootout attempts, while Emily Jones, Shea Rhoney and Caroline Evers all converted from the spot to put the Wolves into the final of the Lady Wildcat Invitational on Saturday after the two teams had played to a 2-2 tie in regulation at Wharton High on Tuesday night.
“I look at their eyes before they shoot,” Fehling said. “Usually people try to trick you up before they shoot, so I go the opposite way of the way they look.”
CCC had opened the scoring in the 18th minute as a looping shot from distance by Kaitlin Parker found its way just under the crossbar, but the Wolves tied the game just before halftime as Rhoney’s free kick from the left was sent back into the center of the penalty area by Evers on the right, and Jackie Simpson directed a first-time shot into the left corner of the net.
Newsome came out sharply to start the second half, winning a lot of possession in midfield as they outworked the Marauders and started finding better passes to create scoring opportunities. That paid off in the 59th minute as Maria Cate slid a through-ball in for Evers, who was cutting in from the right. Evers timed her run well to stay onside, putting her in behind the CCC defense, and she then coolly finished into the bottom left corner of the net.
Ever's goal appeared it would be the game-winner as the Wolves remained in control, but in the final 10 minutes the game began to get ragged, and CCC took advantage with four minutes to go as Alex Alberdi made a run through the right channel, fought through a challenge by a Wolves defender, and fired a shot into the left corner of the net.
Newsome coach Kelly Townsend was disappointed with how her side opened, but thought they responded well after going a goal down.
“We definitely came out and took control in the second half, and that’s what we needed to do,” Townsend said. “The thing we need to work on the most, I think, is to do that from the very start of the game, rather than wait until the second half, because we play a hard schedule, and a lot of teams aren’t going to give us second chances.”
Newsome will face the winner of Wednesday night’s second semifinal between Plant and Seminole. Connor Zwetsch scored a hat trick as the Panthers defeated Freedom 3-0, the FSU commit being found by Kaitlyn Steckel as she made a late, unmarked run into the penalty area before shooting home her first in the 23rd minute.
Zwetsch added her second when she headed home from Molly Ganther’s corner kick, and finished off her hat trick after good work from Ellen Moore down the left provided a cross for a first-time finish.
Freedom didn’t play poorly, Jessica Baumann having a strong game, but Plant’s quality was too much for the Patriots. Panthers coach Steve McGill was happy with his side’s performance.
“I’m very happy,” McGill said. “I thought the effort from every single girl in every position was unbelievable, and I’m most happy that at 2-0, there was no letdown from our side. We kept fighting, kept putting the pressure on, it was too good of a team to let them back in. If we had started getting weak and lazy in the midfield and started losing the 50-50s, that team could have come back and really made it tough for us.”
Freedom coach Chris Hinkle was pleased with the way his side played in the first half, but was a little disappointed with its fitness as the Patriots didn’t quite have the same energy after halftime.
“I think we struggled with some fitness, which I was surprised by, I thought we were in better shape,” Hinkle said. “That’s good though, we played a good team who let us know in the first game how we’re going to match up for the rest of the season. Obviously Plant’s a good team, and it’s always tough to start out your season with that, but I’m OK with it.”
The Warhawks went behind in the first minute against Durant, but finished the game on cruise control in a 6-1 win as Sierra Lelii and Megan Lawrence each found the net twice.
Durant took the lead as Riley Andreu caught the Seminole defense napping, latching onto a ball over the top before finishing nicely into the right corner of the net. From then on, though, Seminole showed why they reached the Class 5A region final last season, scoring four before halftime as Lelii in particular was excellent going forward, adding a pair of assists to her goals.