After having seen both Berkeley Prep and Seminole fall, the Bucs in a shootout and the Warhawks in overtime, Palm Harbor earned the Tampa Bay area its only state title of the girls final four weekend on Saturday night.
Kelly Phipps' overtime goal proved the difference in a 1-0 victory against West Boca Raton, and as The St. Petersburg Times' John C. Cotey writes, the Hurricanes exceeded expectations.
The Buccaneers had earlier come a goalline away from picking up their first state title, an overtime chance for Sam Newhaller being cleared off the line as it appeared Berkeley was going to be rewarded for a strong game against Plantation American Heritage.
Instead, the Buccaneers fell 1-0 in a penalty shootout, giving the Patriots their second straight Class 3A title, and sixth since 2000.
Seminole's loss was almost as agonizing. After being reduced to 10 men early in the second half, the Warkhawks fought tooth and nail against ESPN Rise No.1 Melbourne only for Kristin Grubka to grab a 2-1 victory for the Bulldogs with a goal early in overtime.
With that victory, and the 25-0 perfect season, Melbourne was named ESPN Rise's Winter National Champion on Tuesday. The Bulldogs were, understandably, thrilled to have competed a second straight undefeated season, and took a moment to reflect on what a remarkable run they had embarked on the past two seasons.
Now, the boys championships are upon us, and Mitchell opens up play for the four bay area schools tonight when the Mustangs face Pembroke Pines Charter this evening at 5 p.m.
According to the Times' Izzy Gould, Mustangs coach Oscar Ubillus encouraged his players to visit Pepin Stadium last season for the boys final four, and last week for the girls, to help them envision what it would be like to be there themselves. The Tampa Tribune's Mike Camunas details the work the Mustangs have put in, with two-a-day practices in preparation for tonight's game.
Those of you who can't make the game, TBO.com will be broadcasting live from Pepin Stadium tonight, and you can follow the play-by-play from 4:45 p.m. here.