EAST MANATEE -- Braden River goalie Katerina Elliott gets bored easily. It's one reason she doesn't mind getting all the pressure put on her shoulders.
The junior was put to test in the Pirates Class 4A-Disrict 11 soccer opener Monday and she responded by withstanding a barrage of shots in the final minutes to help Braden River eke out a 3-1 win over Punta Gorda Charlotte.
The match was a lot closer than the final score indicated. Braden River led 2-1 until Carly Provan's goal with about 10 seconds left in the game accounted for the final margin.
"She had two fantastic saves at the end. It's been that way all year. When we needed her she stepped up," Braden River head coach Don Engleberger said.
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After Braden River (9-3-3) went ahead 2-1 about 15 minutes into the second half, the Pirates seemed to lose their energy and Charlotte picked its up especially in the last four minutes.
The Tarpons (10-7-3) peppered the Braden River nets for five shots on goal in the final four minutes and Elliott came up with two big saves.
"The last minute is always stressful. We are usually a second half team, but for me I don't want our team to feel like it's my fault. I always step it up to try and get a win at the end," Elliott said. "I usually like getting a lot of shots on goal because I get bored. But I wasn't bored tonight. On some of those shots it's like an instant reaction when you stop them."
The teams were deadlocked at 1-1 when Abigail Holmes scored from about 15 yards out from the right side with an assist from Kendall McNab. Charlotte began to take control of the match, but couldn't finish. In the final four minutes two shots hit the post and one just barely flew over goal.
Braden River took a 1-0 lead less than four minutes into the match on Provan's first goal. But Charlotte tied the game with 17:20 remaining before intermission.
"Charlotte seemed to want it more than we did for most of the match," Engleberger said. "We had some speed up top and got lucky with a few through balls and that was the difference. We were looking really good until the first water break and lord have mercy (after that). It was ugly, but we got a win.
"Our defense has been excellent all year long. Tonight they had a hiccup if you will, but when they get past our defense they have to get past her (Katerina) and she is solid. It's a bonus having her back there."
Braden River will visit number one seed Lakewood Ranch Wednesday night in the semifinals. The Pirates lost 2-0 to the Mustangs and tied the other match between the two.
"Usually I am one of those type of players that like to dribble it in, but I saw the keeper coming and I tried to hit it on top corner (on my first goal)," Provan said. "Charlotte is a really a good team and likes to play the off side trap a lot, but we kind of monitored that and made sure we were on line tonight. I am looking forward to Lakewood Ranch. They are a really good team. It's going to be a challenge."