TAMPA — East Lake had its opportunities Friday night.
A victory over Steinbrenner was there for the taking but the Eagles couldn't put away the Class 5A District 7 top seed when those chances presented themselves.
The Warriors escaped with a 2-1 overtime win despite playing a man down for the final 20 minutes of game time.
Steinbrenner's leading scorer Blake Wilson ended it with a blistering right-footer from about 30 yards out that snuck inside the left post. Only 1:57 remained in the first overtime of a match that appeared destined to go to penalty kicks.
“There's no other feeling like it,” Wilson said. “That's the reason you play sports, just for that feeling right there; getting dog-piled by your whole team. There are no words to explain that.”
“We had our chances,” East Lake coach Alex Stenson said, “we didn't take them and they got a magnificent goal to finish it. That's a goal to win any game.”
The best of those chances came in the 69th minute of regulation when the Eagles were awarded a penalty kick because of a Steinbrenner red card. On the last of East Lake's three-straight corner kicks, Warriors senior Zachary Yarish slapped a ball out of net with his hand – an automatic red and ejection.
Stenson trotted out Pierre Goris for the attempt, but the junior's PK rang low off the left post.
“We were going over penalties yesterday and it's just one of those things,” Stenson said. “Some of the best players in the world have missed penalties. It's a lot of pressure on a player and if we had another one I'd probably have him take it again.”
Although much of the second half was played with East Lake on the attack, both sides traded quality looks on net that all came up just short.
It was East Lake that struck first Friday night, scoring in the 21st minute. Kevin Grywcznski buried a loose ball inside Steinbrenner's penalty area off a throw-in from Alex Carbonelli.
But before the Eagles could make it to break with their slim 1-0 advantage intact, Andres Saenz tied it up for Steinbrenner when David McGee found him for a clear look inside the 18.
Steinbrenner now gets to host Thursday's region quarterfinal against the loser of Friday night's District 5A-8 final between Sarasota Riverview and St. Petersburg. East Lake will travel to the winner of that match.
EL – 1 - 0 - 0 --- 1
S - 1 - 0 - 1 --- 2
East Lake (19-3-1)
21' – Kevin Grywcznski – Goal (Assist: Alex Carbonelli)
40+' – Andres Saenz – Goal (Assist: David McGee)
89' – Blake Wilson – Goal
EL – 13 (7 on goal)
S – 11 (7 on goal)