EAST LAKE — Palm Harbor University has had only one loss this season — to the team that almost sent them home early in the 5A-7 semifinals Wednesday.
But after two quick goals by Steinbrenner in a dominant first half, the Hurricanes turned on the switch and handed the Warriors a 3-2 loss in penalty kicks.
Twenty-five minutes in, defender Jason Fishman headed the ball to the top right corner of the net. Steinbrenner (12-8-1) continued to pile on thanks with a blooper goal 45 yards out sent in by Matthew Gordon over tripped-up junior goalie Hayden Groom with three minutes left in the half.
“I felt that both goals were my fault and I owed it to (the PHU offense) to carry us through penalty kicks,” Groom said. “They were our biggest rival this year, and we had a lot of pressure.”
But the Hurricanes (14-1-2) kept their cool and managed to tie it up thanks to goals by midfielder Channing Pezet with 26 minutes left in regulation and another by forward Matthew Corbett with two minutes left. Both were headers and the game stopped shortly after to advance into a team’s worst nightmare, a golden goal.
But two 10-minute overtimes still did not reveal a winner and it took seven penalty kicks for a champion to rise. Steinbrenner, despite two opportunities to win in PKs, could not convert. Groom blocked three shots while another went over the net.
Written by Evan Abramson/Online Sports Editor