Auburndale, Sebring Advance to 3A-13 Title Game
Wed. January 23, 2013 at 2:00 a.m. | By Bill Kemp
Auburndale's Robert Bramble, right, and Lake Wales' Jonathan Smith battle for control of the ball during the first half of their FHSAA Class 3A, District 13 tournament semifinal. (Photo by MICHAEL WILSON | THE LEDGER)
By B|ILL KEMP
LEDGER MEDIA GROUP
LAKE WALES | Controlling field position becomes useless if the ball doesn't end up in the net.
Both Auburndale and Winter Haven dominated field position in the Class 3A, District 13 semifinals Tuesday at Legion Field but only the Bloodhounds were able to capitalize and gain a berth in the Class 3A state playoffs.
Auburndale knocked off Lake Wales 4-0 after Sebring edged Winter Haven 1-0 in the first game.
Sebring (9-8-5) will face Auburndale (20-4-1) at 7 p.m. Friday in a rematch of last year's district championship game won by the Bloodhounds.
"We're looking forward to playing Sebring. They seemed to be the team that gives us the hardest game. And they deserve to be there," Auburndale head coach Guy Jennings said.
After a scoreless first half, controlled by Auburndale pushing the ball deep into Lake Wales territory, senior Carlos Valdez scored at the 36:00 mark to give the Bloodhounds a 1-0 lead.
"They were making it difficult on us," Jennings said. "I told them if we can get one in I think we can get four in. And that's exactly what happened."
Midway through the second half Kendy Pierre and Matt Colqhoune broke the game open with a pair of goals — just 40 seconds apart — to give Auburndale a commanding 3-0 lead.
A few minutes later, Lake Wales was issued a red card and played a man down the rest of the way.
Valdez capped the game's scoring with his second goal with three minutes remaining.
Following the game, a few players on both sides had to be separated. Coaches quickly took control and only words were exchanged.
Winter Haven (8-12-2) just missed a scoring opportunity early in the first half when a shot hit the crossbar and tumbled straight down before being fielded by the Sebring goalkeeper.
"My guys, and keep in mind it's my guys, said (the goalkeeper) reached in and got it out," Winter Haven head coach Bill Desmond said. "It's a judgment call, and keep in mind the referees did a great job, but I don't know if (the referees) were on the line to see it. In soccer the whole ball has to go past the line. It's tough, you have to be in position to see that line."
Sebring's Brian Dixon scored the game's only goal just 56 seconds into the second half when Winter Haven goalkeeper Johnny Ramirez was forced to come out of net to defend while Ben Smith quickly backed up to exchange places.
"It was a very heads-up play (by Smith) or the goal would have been wide open. We should have covered the ball. We needed to do a better job of communicating on that," Desmond said.