Tough way to go … Tigers lose late in regional semis


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Holy Trinity's Danny Lynch (right) looks to move the ball upfield during Saturday night's Class 1A regional semifinal. Unfortunately for the Tigers, a late goal by Lakeland Christian gave the Vikings a 1-0 victory.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

It was one of those games where both teams played so hard and so well that it was likely to come down to something simple … like the bounce of a ball.

That’s what happened to the Holy Trinity boys soccer team Saturday night.

Locked in a tight game with Lakeland Christian in the Class 1A regional semifinals at Florida Tech’s Rick Stottler Field, Holy Trinity got a great save from goalkeeper Callum Watson only to have the ball go right to a Vikings player, who netted the only goal of the night with 13 minutes remaining.

And that’s how the Tigers’ season ended, with a 1-0 loss to Lakeland Christian.

“It was a 50/50 game and it was always going to be whoever got the lucky bounce, or whoever got the right call was going to win this game, and it was them tonight,” Holy Trinity coach James Phillips said. “It was a good game. Someone’s got to twin, someone’s got to lose. Unfortunately, we were on the wrong end of it tonight.”

Saturday night’s game had originally been scheduled to be played at Holy Trinity, but given that there was a girls regional semifinal played there the night before and a forecast for rain Saturday night, it was moved to Stottler Field.

A heavy wind played a key role in the game as both teams had trouble getting off clear shots and aerial passes were sometimes blown off course.

But that didn’t stop both teams from putting together an entertaining game.

“It was pretty even,” Holy Trinity senior David Benjamin said. “It was just whoever got the first goal kind of won it and that’s what happened. We both had chances. They got luck with a goal and we couldn’t score, so we didn’t get the result we wanted.”

Although the Tigers did a good job of pressing forward at times, the Lakeland Christian defense was solid. Often times when the Tigers put a cross into the box, there was no one there to get a head or foot on it.

“They were solid at the back,” Phillips said. “They did a good job. They kept numbers back, caused us problems. They screened Danny (Lynch) as much as they could. We weren’t on the end of all of those crosses. Tough one.”

It was an especially tough night for Holy Trinity seniors like Lynch; Benjamin; Watson; Ollie Dunkin; Davis Bell; John Micallef; MJay Choi; Alex Pinto and Charlie Woods.

“Some of them came to the final four with us a couple of years ago,” Phillips said. “It’s been a good ride with them. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Judging by the way the Tigers players hugged and expressed their thoughts toward each other after the game, it wasn’t hard to tell that this year’s group is extremely close.

“I loved my time here,” Benjamin said. “The students are great. The kids are great … it’s been a great four years here.

“We’re all friends outside of soccer. It’s not like I’m going to be missing them in a few weeks, because I’ll be seeing them every day. I think that helped with our chemistry (this season). We all know each other so well.”