Girls soccer | Saint Stephen's uses extra time again to win Class 1A-District 7 crown

Own goal handsSaint Stephen'sClass 1A-7 crown

jdill@bradenton.comJanuary 18, 2014 

BRADENTON -- Winning late just seems to be Saint Stephen's style in the postseason.

One night after defeating Bradenton Christian on a golden goal in sudden death, the Falcons had to dig deep again in the Class 1A-District 7 girls soccer final Friday.

Saint Stephen's beat visiting Sarasota Christian 2-1 after extra time.

Friday's match winner, though, came off an own goal when the Blazers attempted to clear the ball from a Saint Stephen's corner.

The result was a deflected ball that caromed back into Sarasota Christian's net.

As a byproduct, the Falcons will host next Thursday's regional quarterfinal. Their opponent was not known at press time.

"I told my girls that when we had that ball in the box (Thursday night against Bradenton Christian) and I just said, 'When those things happen, it's just a scramble,'" Saint Stephen's head coach Eric Howell said. "And you want to create chaos. I think they did a nice job of that."

Saint Stephen's (13-1-0) fell behind in the first half after Sarasota Christian senior Kelsey Murphy banged in a penalty in the 11th minute.

Murphy, arguably the best player on the pitch, dictated the game during the first period.

That's when Falcons midfielder Lindsay Leskinen stepped up. The sophomore ran tirelessly to keep pace with Murphy, and Saint Stephen's reaped the benefits with a plethora of chances in the second half and in extra time.

Leskinen, in fact, tied the game when she boomed a shot that deflected off a Sarasota Christian defender and found twine just 14 minutes into the second half.

"I think at that point, I just wanted to tie it up so we had a chance," Leskinen said. "The ball from Kendall (Miller) was perfect and I just whacked it."

From there, Saint Stephen's continued its assault in the final third and that attack paid off in the waning moments of the first extra time period.

That's when Kelsey Leskinen whipped in a corner and Sarasota Christian scrambled to clear the ball from its box.

However, it bounced back into the Blazers own net and the Falcons celebrated the programs fourth district championship in five seasons.

The victory was especially thrilling considering Saint Stephen's played nearly 100 minutes in Thursday's semifinal victory over BCS, before going almost 90 minutes on Friday.

"We definitely persevered," Lindsay Leskinen said. "My legs are about ready to fall off."

The Falcons held a 10-5 shots on goal advantage over the Blazers, who did not have any chances in extra time.

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