Hurricanes girls soccer takes title

Published: Saturday, January 19, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 18, 2008 at 11:29 p.m.

OCALA The Gainesville High School girl's soccer team has heard the naysayer talk before.

They've said that the group of eight talented seniors had underachieved during their careers, winning only one district title during their freshman year and have been unable to get past district foes Ocala Forest and Eastside.

Say no more.

After a grueling 100-minute 3-2 victory over Forest on Wednesday, the Hurricanes came back from a 1-0 deficit to win their first 4-5A district title in three years with a 2-1 victory over Eastside.

"I told the seniors going into this match that they haven't done squat since their freshman year," said Gainesville coach Fritz Kaufmann, whose team lost to Forest in overtime of the finals last year and to Eastside in the quarterfinals the year before.

"And I told the underclassmen that they haven't done anything at all. They have no legacy. This starts their legacy."

Both teams started slowly, feeling out their opponent and picking their spots to attack. The Hurricanes (14-4-3) were visibly tired from the Wednesday match that forced them to practice only lightly on Thursday.

Eastside (20-4-3) took advantage of its fatigued opponent by stealing the momentum during the final ten minutes of the first half. The Rams outshot the Hurricanes 10-6 in the first 40 minutes, but poured it on late with a 5-0 differential to end the half.

That surge carried over into the second half when Summer Woods, whose sister Hope plays for GHS, booted a corner kick that found the head of senior Kelli Masteller and bounced in for the go-ahead score in the 45th minute.

The Hurricanes had two free-kick opportunities within 20 yards in the minutes following the goal, but found in the 60th minute that the third time was the charm. Hannah Kurdila's 19-yard free kick bounced off the cross bar and down into a pack of players. Amidst the chaos, the ball was punched in by Eastside keeper Grace Chrzanowski.

With time about to expire, Kurdila caught Dowd on a pass that the area's all-time leading goal-scorer was able to dribble past three Ram defenders. A one-on-one with Chrzanowski ended in Dowd's favor as the senior put it into the upper-left corner of the goal for the win in the final minute.

As time expired, a group of exhausted, yet exuberant, Gainesville players piled on each other near the midfield circle. The chants and cheers from the purple jerseys were in stark contrast to the tears from an Eastside team that tasted victory, but couldn't hold on late.

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