TAMPA — Perfection.
The Lakewood Ranch High girls soccer team spent the past three months nearly perfect. They were undefeated — two ties short of a perfect record. They tallied 12 perfect games in which they didn’t allow a goal. They completed a perfect district season on their way to a district championship. And they were a perfect 3-0 in the regional tournament.
Perfection. It’s something that only a select few rarely achieve. And for those that have stared perfection in the face, the heartbreak of seeing it slip away is that much more devastating.
Such was the case last week for the Lady Mustangs who in an instant saw their miraculous perfect season come to an end with a 2-1(PK, 5-3) loss to St. Johns Bartram Trail in the Class 4A state semifinals Feb. 10 at the University of Tampa’s Pepin Stadium.
“It’s a tough way to go, but I’m still very proud of the girls,” coach Guy Virgilio said. “They were able to accomplish a lot. We were very close … just a typical game of this caliber.”
For the second game in a row, Lakewood’s season came down to penalty kicks — only this time the Lady Mustangs found themselves on the outside looking in.
After a scoreless first half, the Lady Mustangs (19-1-2) took a 1-0 lead when forward Sarah Miller scored her 25th goal of the season off an assist from Deana Haller in the 46th minute. The Lady Bears (24-2-1) evened the score on a header in the 59th minute.
The two teams battled back-and-forth and after regulation and two 10-minute extra periods, Lakewood and Bartram Trail remained tied at 1-1. The game went into penalty kicks with both teams scoring their first three penalty kicks. After Bartram Trail scored its fourth kick, Lakewood defender Kristen Hagaman aimed for the corner, but her shot sailed high and toward the middle, missing her mark and landing in the arms of Bartram Trail’s goalkeeper.
“She just got a little too excited,” Virgilio said. “The one thing we talked about was just pick your corner and sometimes with the level and the frame of mind you want to put it where she probably thought, but it didn’t come off her foot the way she wanted to.
“I know Hagaman of all people … she’s very disappointed I’m sure, but just like I told her she is one of the reasons why we are here this far,” he said.
Bartram Trail’s final attempt also went high, and Lakewood goalkeeper Katherine Somodi was able to deflect the shot, but it went off her fingertips and into the goal, ending the game and Lakewood’s previously undefeated season.
Five seniors, including Hagaman, fellow co-captain Kaitlyn Kerrigan, Rachel Wojcicki, Jamie Mineart and Asheley Longworth, played their final game in a Lakewood uniform. But with the majority of the team returning next season, the Lady Mustangs could find themselves once again pursuing perfection with the hopes of building upon this year’s historic season.
Contact Jen Blanco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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