Wolves' win sets up match vs.rival Blue Wave

Published: Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 28, 2011 at 12:45 a.m.

Junior Celine Hickey's goal in the 45th minute broke a scoreless tie, and senior midfielder Kristen Oman added a pair of late goals as the host St. Francis Catholic Wolves claimed a 3-1 victory over Tallahassee John Paul II Catholic in girls Class 2A, Region 1 quarterfinal soccer action Thursday night.

With the win, the Wolves improved to 15-2-3 on the season, while the Panthers had their season end at 8-9-1. St. Francis now advances to the regional semifinals for the second straight year, and standing in the way of their first-ever regional final berth is an all-too-familiar foe — district rival P.K. Yonge.

The Blue Wave knocked off defending regional champion Tallahassee Maclay, 1-0, on the road Thursday to set up an all-Gainesville regional semi Tuesday night at 7 at St. Francis.

“Well, that's what I told P.K. Yonge after the game last week,” Wolves head coach Henry Couch noted. “I thought that we would play them again if we could get past this game.”

At Couch's urging, the Wolves came out aggressive and dominated the action with Hickey, who had the game-winning goal in their 1-0 district championship win over the Blue Wave last week, getting two shots on goal in the game's first two minutes. But despite controlling the action — St. Francis had nine shots and six corner kicks in the first half — the Wolves could not put the ball in the net and headed to the half tied 0-0.

“We just could not buy one,” said Couch. “Sometimes that happens, but unfortunately that's happened three times in a row for us. So I'm hoping we can do a better job next game.”

The Wolves kept up the pressure as the second half opened, and it finally paid dividends when Hickey gained control of a ball some 35 yards out and made a solid run at the goal before blasting a hard shot after entering the box. Goalkeeper Sydney Brewton of John Paul II was able to get a hand on the ball, but the shot had too much on it and the ball carried into the back corner of the net.

The score remained 1-0 until the 73rd minute when junior Emily Lapcevic's free kick from the edge of the box found Oman in front of the net, and the senior sent it home for a 2-0 St. Francis lead.

The Panthers, however, got a quick answer when sophomore Beatrice Menjor was fouled just outside the box a minute later and sent a curving free kick from 20 yards out into the upper right corner of the net to make it 2-1.

But St. Francis was able to get a big insurance goal from Oman in the 77th minute. Sophomore Tori Smith got the play started, taking control of a pass just across midfield and making a great run while pulling away from the last defender. Brewton came out to meet her, and Smith launched a hard shot that caught the Panthers' keeper square in the face. She went down in a heap, and the ball eventually found its way to Oman, who tapped the ball into the unguarded net for the game's final goal.

After a delay of several minutes, Brewton, who recorded six saves in the loss, was helped from the field.

“It's a shame she got injured,” said Couch. “She was very good.”

St. Francis finished the game with a 20-3 advantage in shots. Sophomore keeper Ashton Stone had two saves for the Wolves.

Tuesday's regional semifinal match will be the fourth meeting between the Blue Wave and Wolves this season. St. Francis has come out on top in each of the first three, but all have been tight, hard-fought battles.

“It's been that way every time we've played,” Couch said. “I expect nothing different Tuesday.”

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