A win is always a positive thing. Recording a sweep is a bigger positive.
Hosting Riverview Tuesday in a Class 5A-District 8 set, the host Manatee Hurricanes came up with the latter. The Manatee girls opened with a 3-0 decision over the Rams, while the boys finished the night with a down-to-the wire 3-2 verdict.
With the victory, the Manatee girls improve their overall record to 9-0-1 and now own a 4-0-1 district mark. The Hurricanes won the first meeting between the teams, a 4-2 decision on Nov. 11.
"It was a tough battle," Manatee coach George Ameres said of Tuesday's match. "We came out kind of flat and had to settle into our game. Once we saw what they brought offensively and their style of play, we were able to make the adjustments we needed to make."
Manatee got the only scoring it would need with 26 minutes left in the first half on a Meredith Roberts goal. Scoring all three Hurricane goals to capture the hat trick, Roberts scored the first goal on the first of two assists from Sydney Cornell.
"It helps when you can score a couple goals to boost the team," Roberts said. "It was just the right timing and being in the right spot.
"It was just a big win. We need to win district games since we tied against St. Pete."
Finishing the trifecta in the second half, Roberts got the second Manatee goal with just over 26 minutes left, then scored on a header near the 22-minute mark on a pass from Cornell.
"They were pressuring well in the first half," Roberts said. "In the second half, we just cleaned it up a little bit and worked better as a team. We just had to communicate better and finish our chances."
What helped Manatee in the second half was simple -- better play in the midfield.
"If you can't control the middle of the field, you're going to struggle," Ameres said ."We decided to go to a 4-3-3 and get three midfielders in there so we could win the midfield battle.
"This was a district match and they are extremely important. We were fortunate to win the first one, so to get back on track, it was huge from that standpoint."
Ashley Parker started in goal for the Hurricanes and combined with Emma Joy Moneuse, who came on in the second half, for the shutout.
In the boys match, Manatee saved the best for last. A goal from midfielder Kevin Roman with time winding down in the final two minutes provided the Hurricanes with the dramatic triumph.
"It was a tough game," Manatee coach David Gully said. "It's always a tough game when we play Riverview. You could see that both teams were fighting at it."
Roman's goal came after a Jacob Titsworth header had pulled the Hurricanes even with Riverview for the second time at 30:59 of the second half. A fine cross from Juan Reyes-Gonzalez helped Titsworth to his 12th goal of the season.
"We needed this one," Titsworth said. "This was everything to help us get ready for districts."
Riverview had scored first, getting the only goal of the opening half from Patrick Skladanowski at the 25:58 mark.
"They were a little stronger than us in the first half," Gully said. "In the second half, Manatee came out, really worked hard and obviously we got a reward for it.
"I always tell my teams when you go in losing at halftime, you've got to come and win the second half. That's excactly what we did tonight."
Starting to win the second half, the Hurricanes got on the board on Titsworth's first goal of the night with Luis Segura-Gonzalez getting an assist.
Just two minutes later with 33:37 left, the Rams regained the lead on a Nick Pennebacker goal. Titsworth nearly got the hat trick prior to Roman's game winner, but his header glanced off the right post.
"Jacob Titsworth was just on it tonight," Gully said. "He's a big player for us and just worked hard from start to finish."
With the win, the Hurricanes now stand 4-2-1 on the season and 3-1-1 in district play.