High School Sports

Seminoles watch opportunities slip away

BRADENTON - Frustration is Michael Cline's line drive coming to halt in the goalkeeper's hands. It's that same jumping keeper stonewalling Fernando Hernandez. It's an open shot sailing over the crossbar.

Frustration was on the faces of Southeast's boys soccer players as they walked off the field at John Kiker Memorial Stadium, where the Seminoles fell to St. Petersburg Lakewood 3-1 during the Class 4A-Region 3 quarterfinals Thursday night.

"We came up short with finishing our chances - that's a key to the soccer game," Southeast coach Laszlo Halmi said. "The other team had two or three chances, they put it in. . . . We just came up short again."

Southeast (14-8-1) spent most of the second half in Spartans territory, where the Noles reeled off eight shots. But despite the opportunities, they couldn't find the cracks.

Moments after Taylor Linkfield gave Lakewood (13-3) a 2-1 lead, Cline's clear look from less than 20 yards out went directly at keeper Devan Wade, who had no trouble making the catch. Wade had to take to the air to stop Hernandez's offering with less than 10 minutes remaining but made the save nonetheless.

"We just weren't finishing like we usually do," said Cline, a junior. "And we weren't defending the midfield as good."

Southeast also didn't keep the ball on the ground enough, Cline said.

Halmi agreed.

Aside from fumbling Hernandez's cross pass, which led to Southeast's only goal minutes after halftime, Wade - who finished with five saves - had little trouble corralling anything the Seminoles got into the air, which Halmi knew would be the case.

"Many times, it's being at the right place at the right time, and hit the ball at the right place. We discussed it - hit the ball low," Halmi said. "(Wade's) a big goalkeeper, he's going to make big saves up high. So hit the ball hard and low, hard and low. They didn't do it. I think that was the big key."

The Spartans were much more opportunistic: their first shot after halftime didn't come until Linkfield's go-ahead goal, which came with less than 12 minutes remaining. Evan Richardson scored in the final minutes, putting the game away and sending Lakewood into a regional semifinal with Tarpon Springs East Lake on Tuesday.

Southeast, meanwhile, will be idle until next season, when they will look to win a another district title.

Unhappy with the result, Halmi was pleased with his squad's final effort.

"We fought hard, and that's what our season was all about," he said. "Nobody expected us to go this far, but we showed them again . . . Southeast is pretty good."