A number of South Florida teams advanced to the semifinal round of the 2013 water polo state tournament Friday.
For the fifth consecutive year, the Ransom Everglades girls find themselves in contention for a state championship. The Raiders, winners of the past four titles, cruised into the semifinals with an 18-6 win over Dr. Phillips.
The Raiders, hosting the tournament for the second time, made easy work of the Panthers by taking a 10-2 lead into halftime. Junior Chelsea Johnson scored a game-high 10 goals, including five in a row to end the first half.
The Raiders face a considerably tougher challenge in the next round. Ransom plays Lake Nona at 9 a.m. Saturday. The Raiders won both their matches against the Lions this season, but the games were tight. In their last matchup, Ransom needed overtime to beat Lake Nona by one goal.
If Ransom advances, it will most likely face its biggest rival and toughest challenger, Gulliver Prep, in the state final. Gulliver easily advanced to the semifinal round, beating Sun Coast 14-5. Gulliver plays Winter Park at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
In one of the most exciting girls’ matches of the afternoon, Winter Park barley edged out Westminster Academy 9-8. The game, a defensive struggle for both teams, featured stellar goaltending, with offensive bursts sprinkled in. Both team’s goalies stopped a number of open shots. Trailing 8-6 late in the third quarter, Westminster goalie Emily Stevenson made two point-blank saves that prevented Winter Park from swimming away with the game.
The Lions’ Caroline Isreals, who had a game-high five goals, was responsible for much of Westminster’s offense. Down 8-6 and defending a Winter Park power play, Isreals scored on a fast break after stealing the ball on the Lions’ side of the pool. In the closing seconds, Westminster nearly tied the game, but a point-blank shot ricocheted off the crossbar.
On the boys’ side, Belen Jesuit, St. Thomas Aquinas, Cooper City and St. Andrew’s advanced to the semifinal round.
In a rematch of last year’s state final, St. Thomas Aquinas edged Gulliver Prep 11-10 in overtime. The match, one of the most anticipated and competitive of the quarterfinal round, was a defensive slugfest that came down to a sudden-death goal by Aquinas’ Anthony Pasarin. Pasarin, a University of Florida commitment, made a nearside skip shot to seal the victory for Aquinas.
After a slow start, Belen Jesuit used strong performances from Herzen Cortez, Jake Guzo, Santiago Nunez and Alfredo Ramirez to top Dr. Phillips 10-7.
Cooper City, making its first state tournament appearance since 2008, beat Olympia 14-8. The Cowboys (15-7) thoroughly dominated the match, leading 8-2 at halftime. Cooper City’s Brandon Bogumill scored a game-high eight goals, including four consecutive goals in the first half.