Girls soccer | Key play sends Manatee to Class 5A-Region 2 quarterfinal victory over Tampa Plant

jlembo@bradenton.comJanuary 24, 2014 

BRADENTON -- The play hadn't produced a goal all year, and members of Manatee's girls soccer team were so tired of running it they begged coach George Ameres to take it out of the playbook.

Be persistent, he told them. It'll work.

Thursday night, it did, producing the first goal during Manatee's 3-1 win over Tampa Plant in the Class 5A-Region 2quarterfinals.

The program's first region playoff win since 1999, it sends Manatee to Tuesday's Region 2 semifinal at Palm HarborUniversity.

Nicknamed "Jamaica," the play occurred

on a Jessica Shafer's corner kick. With most of the Hurricanes cleared toward the back post, Brianna Blethen checked to the ball but let it roll right past her instead of playing it. Right there waiting was an open Sarah Wasser, who beat Plant goalie Callie Grabel during the game's 53rd minute.

"It was executed right," said Wasser, a senior. "It all depends on where the ball comes through the box. ... It had to work once."

Wasser nearly gave Manatee the lead on two separate occasions prior to the goal. She hit the crossbar during the game's 16th minute, and her try from about 15 yards out hit an official and ricocheted out of bounds.

Roughly a minute after that second attempt, she helped Manatee to a 1-0 lead.

"As soon as I hit the crossbar, I knew I was on," Wasser said. "Normally if I shank the first shot, then I feel a little off. ... I still made solid contact on the second shot, even though I hit the ref. I knew it was going to happen eventually."

The goal triggered a rally for Manatee (15-4-2), which took nine shots during the scoreless opening half. Schafer scored off an assist from Michaella Krebser during the 65th minute before Krebser scored herself from about 20 yards out four minutes later.

"These girls are hungry, and they want more," Ameres said. "You could see it on the field -- these girls did not quit for a second."

Freshman goalie Ashleigh Parker had six saves for the Canes and nearly recorded the team's third straight shutout before Plant's Abby Sanchez scored during the 75th minute.

"Nothing she could do on the goal," Ameres said. "But she played well (Thursday). I was very proud of her, as a freshman, to come out and make some huge saves."

Now Manatee turns its attention to Palm Harbor University, with the winner reaching next Friday's Region 2 championship match.

But Ameres wanted his girls to enjoy Thursday's result.

"This is a huge win for us," Ameres said. "They're a fun group of girls to be around, and they play great soccer. We're very proud of them. They deserve it."

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