Panthers fall in district tournament

Thunder advances to semifinals

jlembo@bradenton.comJanuary 20, 2011 

ST. PETERSBURG -- It’s become an annual battle for Butch Morley.

Girls soccer is a relatively new sport at Bradenton Christian, roughly five-years-old. And each winter, Morley, the team’s coach, worries about whether he will have enough players to compete.

The Panthers did this year, fielding 17 players, and Morley estimated 10 had never played before. Morley hopes they keep playing -- though he wanted them to keep playing this season, too.

But BCS fell 2-1 to Tampa Cambridge during Wednesday’s Class 2A-District 10 quarterfinals at St. Petersburg Shorecrest.

“We just couldn’t get it together,” Morley said.

The fourth-seeded Lancers took a lead just before halftime on a goal from freshman Madison Cox.

“She’s a great, great, great player, and she just works her tail off,” Morley said. “And we made a defensive error, and that allowed her through. If you give her a shot on goal, that’s what happens.”

Morley then decided to move Jordan Ponto, one of three seniors, up front. The move backfired, however, when Cambridge scored less than four minutes after halftime. “They wouldn’t have beaten Jordan back there,” Morley said.

Fifth-seeded BCS (5-8-1) made things interesting during the game’s 53rd minute, when Ponto set up a goal by Kristin Eriksen.

But that was the closest the Panthers came, and Cambridge faces top-seeded Saint Stephen’s tonight at 7 in a district semifinal.

The winner heads to Friday’s championship game and clinches a berth in next week’s Region 3 tournament.

“We’re proud of our girls, the way they’ve played. We didn’t think we were even going to have a season,” Morley said. “Like we said to them, these girls, they’ve got to come out next year. We’ve got to keep building.

“We want to keep the girls motivated want to have some fun. And I think some of these girls have learned -- although it’s competitive -- they can still have fun playing this great game.”

OUT-OF-DOOR ACADEMY 3, ST. PETERSBURG NORTHSIDE CHRISTIAN 0 -- The Thunder blanked the Mustangs in Wednesday’s other quarterfinal.

Carly Hunter was key for ODA (9-6-3). Her free kick set up Rachel Cannon’s goal during the game’s eighth minute, and Hunter scored herself from 30 yards out 20 minutes later.

Then, in the game’s 73rd minute, Hunter buried a corner kick inside the back left corner of the post.

The third-seeded Thunder face tournament-host Shorecrest Prep -- the No. 2 seed -- 5 p.m. today in the first semifinal.

The winner faces either Saint Stephen’s or Tampa Cambridge 7 p.m. Friday for the district title.

Goalie Sammi Jo Gaeta had five saves for ODA.

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