“Everything I do, everything I play for, and try to achieve. It’s all for Frank (Vasquez)” said Steinbrenner senior captain and center defender, Noah Keene.
Four months after the tragic death, the Warriors still play with Frank in mind as senior captain Blake Wilson, for the second straight game, sent a ball into the net for a game-winning goal, sending Steinbrenner into the next round of regional’s with a 4-3 win over St. Petersburg Thursday night.
Wilson scored his first of two goals with a minute left of the first half, giving the Warriors the halftime lead. St. Pete controlled the first 60 minutes however and broke through early in the second, with two goals in three minutes by Blake Bryant.
“St. Pete played a great game and they were all over us for the first 60 minutes. But after that last water break, we made some lineup changes, moved Noah to center mid and moved Blake to the forward position. It made us more offensive and made them more defensive. It really helped us out tonight” said Head Coach Chad Ebright.
St. Pete wasn’t done yet. Junior Martin Gaganelov put a ball into the net with only 16 minutes remaining of the game.
With ten minutes remaining, Keene put a deflected ball into the net after his own header attempt off a cross in the middle was blocked. With the score lying at 3-2, the crowds cheering, he wasn’t finished yet.
With two minutes remaining in regulation, Keene placed a ball directly in the left corner of the goal mouth with a header. The St. Pete goalkeeper stopped it, but Keene persisted, and punched the ball past him.
“I can’t stress enough how much Noah means to this team and how he is definitely our most valuable player at least for this game if not the rest” said Wilson.
Coming off of a golden goal overtime victory in the district finals, the Warriors would need to do it again to avoid penalty kicks. After seven more minutes of physical play, Wilson finally found the golden opportunity, and put the ball in off a rebound from Tony Scaglione’s blocked shot. Steinbrenner won 4-3 with three goals in 17 minutes.
“We are not a team that gives up and I can’t even begin to say what this means to me. It just doesn’t seem real” said Wilson.
With Austin Labban coming back from his red card suspension from last week, the Warriors will have a full offensive unit when they battle it out with district rival, East Lake in the regional semifinal this Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at Steinbrenner Field.
Evan Abramson / Senior Staff Writer