Highlanders, Devils To Meet in Class 3A-13 District Title Game
Wed. January 16, 2013 at 2:00 a.m. | By Polk Preps Staff
WINTER HAVEN'S EMILY OBER moves the ball up the field as Sebring 's Lacey Watson tries to defend during the first half. For more photos, go to www.theledger.com/galleries. (Photo by MICHAEL WILSON | THE LEDGER)
By BILL KEMP
LEDGER MEDIA GROUP
WINTER HAVEN | What ever happens next Lake Wales and Winter Haven can rest assured. Both teams qualified for the FHSAA Class 3A girls soccer regional playoffs Tuesday.
The Highlanders punched their ticket with a 2-0 win against McKeel Academy in the first game of Tuesday's District 13 semifinals at Denison Stadium and the Blue Devils rallied for two late scores to upend Sebring 2-1 in the second game.
Lake Wales will meet Winter Haven in the championship game at 7 p.m. Friday.
"It is a happy thought and we can breathe a little bit easier," Lake Wales head coach Ashley Cockrell said. "Now if we can get the icing on the cake and win Friday's game."
Lake Wales scored twice in the first half, getting goals from senior Kailey Jo Smith and sophomore Taylor Kinns.
The scoring vanished in the second half as the McKeel adjustments kept Lake Wales from breaking the game open.
"We tried to keep the defense pushed up. We were giving them too much room on defense," McKeel Academy head coach Jacob Sweeney said. "But if you can't score you can't win."
Lake Wales (11-6) had two second-half shots hit the posts and Smith was denied on a close third shot with less than 2 minutes remaining.
"Oh my gosh, it was the most frustrating thing," Smith said. "I've been on a lot of really good teams, but we have a lot potential and we wanted it really bad."
Winter Haven (9-2-3) dominated field position throughout the second game but found itself trailing Sebring 1-0 late in the second half when Emily Ober delivered the first of her two dramatic goals.
The junior midfielder launched a 17-yard header that bounced off the goalkeeper's hands and angled straight into the net with 12:01 remaining to tie the game 1-1.
Ober struck again with 3:14 left sending a shot clear across the field from the sidelines and in for the eventual game winner.
"It was amazing. All of a sudden I had a burst of energy and then it just happened," Ober said. "I tell my players never give up. It's the man up top that is keeping us together, so we just have to go for it and go for the win."