Four fighting for title

Published: Saturday, January 4, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 4, 2003 at 1:24 a.m.


Friday's results

  • Buchholz 2, Lakewood 0
  • South Fork 2, Oak Hall 1
  • Buchholz 4, Bartram Trail 0
  • Oak Hall 2, Keystone Heights 1 (PK)
  • South Fork 4, Eastside 0
  • Lakewood 5, Lincoln 1
  • Washington 1, Belleview 0 (PK)
    Today's schedule
    UF practice field
  • 5th-place, Lincoln and Pensacola Washington, 8 a.m.
  • Semifinal, Buchholz vs. Oak Hall, 10 a.m.
  • Semifinal, South Fork vs. Lakewood, noon
    Percy Beard Stadium
  • 3rd-place, 4 p.m.
  • Championship, 6:30 p.m.

  • After three rounds of round-robin pool play, only four teams remain in contention for the title at the 25th annual Lady Bobcat Invitational soccer tournament.
    Buchholz, last year's runner-up, had the strongest showing in three wins this week, outscoring its opponents 14-2, including two shutouts.
    The Bobcats received considerable contributions from freshmen Chelsea Chidgey, Nikki Collins and Lauren Dwyer, who have been thrust into leading roles following a plague of injuries.
    Collins has been solid all season with three hat tricks on the year, while Dwyer has four goals and three assists in three games this week. The Bobcats opened the tournament with an 8-2 win against Columbia, followed by 2-0 and 4-0 shutouts against Lakewood and Bartram Trail, respectively.
    The Bobcats have also gotten quality senior leadership from Florida commitment Kelli Eisenbrown, and Louisville signee Candi Hicks, a softball standout, who is playing her first season at goalkeeper.
    With each outright win in the 12-team tournament, the teams receive three points, while two extra points are awarded for a shutout. A tie after regulation is decided by penalty kicks, with two points going to the winner, and one point to the losing team.
    Buchholz's 13 points were a tournament best, earning the Bobcats a spot in today's 10 a.m. semifinal against Oak Hall, which found its way to the top of its group with a 2-0 win against Pensacola Washington on Thursday, and a penalty kick win over Keystone Heights late Friday after a 2-1 loss to South Fork earlier in the day.
    The Eagles were led by senior Katie Roark and freshman Lauren Firmat. Both had a goal against Keystone and junior Lizzie Paulus had a goal and an assist on the day. Senior Rochelle Rubeis was also strong in goal, saving three penalty kicks to hold off the Indians, who got goals from Sarah Poncher and Angii Francis-Verbeelen. Nikki Houser also had 15 saves in the loss.
    The Eagles took a 2-0 lead into halftime, but ran out of gas and allowed the Indians to tie the game 2-2. If Oak Hall is to avenge a 4-2 loss to Buchholz earlier in the season, it will have to be a little more strategic, said coach Basil Benjamin.
    "I think we were lucky we won in penalty kicks against Keystone, since you never know what's going to happen," Benjamin said. "But Buchholz is deep and very talented, so we're going to have to play a little more on defense and plan our attacks to try to get one or two past them."
    Today's noon semifinal will feature South Fork and Lakewood, which had 11 and 10 points respectively.
    South Fork defeated Belleview (4-1), Oak Hall (2-1) and Eastside (4-0) to advance, while Lakewood downed Ocala Forest (5-0) and then Tallahassee Lincoln (4-0) after a 2-0 loss to Buchholz early Friday.
    Along with Keystone Heights, locals Eastside and Columbia failed to advance, while Lincoln (eight points) and Washington (seven points), will meet at 8 this morning for the fifth-place match at the University of Florida practice field.
    The semifinal losers will then meet at 4:30 p.m. for the third-place match at Percy Beard Stadium, with the title game to follow at 6:30 p.m.
    "One thing I really like is how the three freshman are playing. They're play right now is pretty solid, and they are all starting to gel as a team," Buchholz coach Ron Messick said. "We've had a good tournament with some good teams, and just to advance is a testament to their hard work. If we just play our game and play how we know how to, we'll be fine and can play against anybody."
    Matt Cannizzaro can be reached at (352) 374-5066 or

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