COUGARS 2 WARHAWKS 1
SEMINOLE – The Class 4A District 10 top seed was up for grabs between Countryside and Seminole.
The host Warhawks entered the match one game ahead of C-Side in the league standings, but a tie would go to the Cougars with a win Friday night.
That’s exactly what the defending district champions went out and got. Sophomore Chloey Conte delivered the winning goal in the 69th minute that broke a 1-1 tie and guaranteed Countryside home-field advantage throughout the Jan. 28 to Feb. 1 tournament.
“I’m proud of them,” Cougars coach Chris Duffy said. “This is all about them and they’re just outstanding. They’re a great team, they don’t quit.”
The teams played to a scoreless draw through one half before junior Lana Truong got Countryside on the board four minutes after the break.
Seminole responded by cranking up the pressure, but 20 minutes of set pieces and steady attacks didn’t result in scored goals. Perseverance paid off, however. Sarah Coco put away a ball from inside the Countryside penalty area in the 66th minute to get the Warhawks back in the match.
“I told them it was going to be a one- or two-goal game,” Duffy said of the tight match. “They’re a good team.”
The Countryside attack generated plenty of offensive pressure, as well, and more shots that Seminole for the match. Limiting the amount of scoring, though, was Seminole keeper Rhiannon Ianotti. A minute after Coco’s tying goal, Countryside’s Tori Clark got free on the left side and went low but Ianotti racked up another of her many clutch saves.
“I knew we’d get one,” Duffy said of his offense breaking through against a tough keeper. “It was a matter of time and it was a matter of getting a combination play. They finally put it together, but she was good. You’re facing more and more of these kinds of girls with the clubs these days. Keepers are really good and she’s one of them.”
Countryside didn’t waste time getting the game-winner after Seminole equalized. Conte dribbled through two defenders during the 69th minute and beat Ianotti wide as the keeper came out to cut off the angle.
The Cougars got a big save of its own from keeper Alyssa Barnes in the match’s final minutes, punching away a close-range strike from just outside the goal box. Countryside cleared the ensuing corner and held on to win 2-1.
Friday night’s victory marks four straight for the Cougars over Seminole and they’ve won five of the last six head-to-head meetings. The Warhawks’ last win over C-Side came during the district semifinals in 2015-2016.
The higher seed hosts games when the District 4A-10 tournament begins Jan. 28. Countryside is the top seed, followed by Seminole, East Lake, St. Petersburg, Northeast, Dixie Hollins, Clearwater and Pinellas Park.
CS – 0 – 2 --- 2
Sem – 0 – 1 --- 1
Countryside (10-3-1, 6-1-0)
44’ – Lana Truong (Goal) Tori Clark (Assist)
69’ – Chloey Conte (Goal) Cassidy Swenson (Assist)
Seminole (8-3-1, 6-1-0)
66’ – Sarah Coco (Goal)