Resembling the team that won back-to-back district soccer championships, and nothing like the lethargic group that lost to American Heritage on Saturday, the Ida Baker girls rose from the ashes to defeat Fort Myers Wednesday night 4-0 in the District 4A-12 semifinals.
It was the third meeting between two of the area's strongest programs this season, with Baker winning twice settling for a tie in the other.
The No. 1-seeded Bulldogs (20-2-4) advance to the district championship game at 7 p.m. Friday night at Bulldogs Stadium. No. 3-seeded Barron Collier earned a shot at ending the Bulldogs' run of consecutive district titles by edging second-seed Gulf Coast 1-0 Wednesday night.
"We came out focused like we should be," said Bulldogs coach Dave Trepkowski. "We came ready to play. We rose to the occasion and played as a team."
Senior Brittney Herrera scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the 28th minute. She picked up a free ball in wide open space on the left wing and fired a left-footed shot from about 22 yards into the upper right corner of the goal.
"I saw the open shot and I took it," said Herrera. "It was wide open and I saw nobody was in the center. I was hoping it was the game-winner, but we couldn't give up. We came out strong and made the best of it."
While the one-goal lead at halftime was a confidence booster, it was not seen as enough.
"We continued to plug away," said Trepkowski. "The second goal felt more comfortable and the third even more comfortable. The fourth goal was the one to seal it."
Three minutes into the second half, junior Monique Elliott made it a 2-0 lead by burying a penalty kick inside the right post.
Sophomore Franny Farella made it a 3-0 margin midway through the half on a 30-yard down-the-middle blast over the keeper and just under the crossbar.
Play got a bit rough and testy at times. Baker drew four yellow cards while Fort Myers earned three yellows.
Just before the water break, senior Jordan Goffar set up the back-breaking goal with a free kick near midfield on the right sideline. The ball found Farella in the middle for a header just inside the box that sailed over the keeper's head and settled neatly into the net.
While the Bulldogs played shooting gallery on offense - 18 shots on goal, 29 total shots - it was the defense that flattened the Green Wave. Elliott shadowed Wave scoring threat Haley Emerson all over the field until Elliott turned her ankle in the second half. The duty then fell to senior Emily Gibson. Emerson never got close enough to the goal to take a shot at it.
The Wave had just six shots on goal and 11 total chances. Their first shot on goal did not come until the 35th minute of the first half. Bulldogs goalkeeper, senior Amanda Kopale, saved five shots and got help from the crossbar rejecting another.
Along with Elliott and Gibson, Goffar, Shannon Pearl, Rachael Swisher and Ashleigh Weaver defended the Wave with authority throughout.
District 3A-11: As it should be, the top two seeds in the district meet for the championship Friday night at North High's Moody Field.
No. 1-seeded Mariner took care of business early in Wednesdays 8-0 semifinal victory over Lemon Bay.
Freshman sensation Holly Fritz scored six goals to lead the Tritons to their sixth straight win which assures them of a berth in the regional playoffs.
The Tritons (20-3-2) play No. 2-seed North Fort Myers at 7 p.m. Friday for the district championship.
The Red Knights (15-4-1) advanced with a 3-1 semifinal victory over South Fort Myers, scoring three unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes to seal the win.
Holly Fritz scored three of the Tritons' first four goals that knocked the Manta Rays back on their heels. Megan Fritz added one goal with three assists, Alejandra Muro-Solis had one goal and one assist. Samantha Kirby and Emily DiRoma each had one assist.
Melisa Cardenas tended goal in the second half, making two saves. Brittany Webb-Martin never handled the ball tending goal in the first half.
"I am excited about being in the championship game and our team is excited as well," said Tritons coach Lisa Schwarz. "We played how we have been of late, with heart and brought the best of our ability out."
South Fort Myers scored the game's first goal early in the second half, but the Red Knights got two goals from Darian Leschewski and one by Melinda Lukas.
North tied the game 1-1 on a penalty kick just before the water break, then added two more down the stretch. The last goal came off a corner kick by Lukas that Leschewski buried in the net.
"After the tying penalty kick I think the girls got our game back," said Knights coach Donna Agostinelli. "We started passing better and making better decisions. We took advantage of the opportunities we had."
Goalkeeper Amy Pavy had 10 total saves, six in the second half.
District 2A-11: Bishop Verot advanced to the district championship game with an 8-0 rout of LaBelle Wednesday night.
Kelly Reynolds led the Vikings with three goals with Lauren Cento contributing two goals. Rebecca Abernethy, Allison Oliva and Chryssie Gibson each added one goal.
Abernethy finished with three assists. Cailyn Rizzo had four saved guarding the net in the first half with Gibson finish it off with one save.
The Vikings (13-2-2) host the district championship game at 7 p.m. Friday.
Ida Baker 4, Dunbar 0: Filander Barahona, Oscar Trujillo, Winston Marin and Andrew Falk scored goals to lead Baker past Dunbar Wednesday night.
Marlon Herrera had two assists while Orlando Matos and Barahona had one assist apiece.
The Bulldogs visit Cape Coral Thursday.
Bishop Verot 82, Island Coast 54: Bishop Verot used it superior height to control the boards and romp past Island Coast Wednesday night.
Ricky Doyle pitched in a game-high 23 points and pulled down seven rebounds to lead the Vikings. Mark Wagner hit 17 points to go with seven assists and six rebounds with Mason Taylor adding 15 points.
"We missed a lot of open looks," said Gators coach Greg Coleman. "They are just so much bigger than we are. We played tough and kept within striking distance, only down 15 at the half, but we have to get better defensively."
Isaac Aponte led the Gators with 10 points to go with 10 assists.
The Gators (8-12) play at East Lee County on Tuesday.
The Vikings (15-3) host Berkeley Prep on Friday.
Island Coast 13 14 14 13 - 54
Bishop Verot 24 18 21 19 - 82
I. COAST 54 - Chery 5, Aponte 10, Darrett 9, Dal Bon 15, Griffin 9, Stark 6. Totals: 18 13-20 54.
3PG: Chery 1, Aponte 1, Darrett 1, Stark 2.
VEROT 82 - Wagner 17, Taylor 15, Reeves 7, Hippler 4, Mosher 10, Williams 2, Doyle 23, Labreche 2, Diamond 2. Totals: 34 10-12 82.
3PG: Wagner 2, Taylor 1, Reeves 1
Dunbar 74, Ida Baker 66: Turnovers proved to be Baker's undoing Wednesday night in a loss to Dunbar.
The Bulldogs gave up a halftime edge to Dunbar's 11-0 run in the third quarter. They fought back within two points in the fourth quarter, but the Tigers capitalized on Bulldog errors down the stretch.
The Bulldogs 4-16) play at Sarasota Friday.
Dunbar14 18 19 23 - 74
Ida Baker16 20 14 18 - 66
DUNBAR 74 - Brausen 2, Hendricks 10, Williams 18, Barnes 25, Byrd 4, Jackson 5, Denisten 14. Totals: 25 19-33 74.
3PG: Hendricks 1, Williams 2, Barnes 2
BAKER 66 - Inchausti 16, Mantle 2, Price 9, Evans 11, Woods 9, Lugo 17, Placher 1. Total: 23 12-19 66.
3PG: Inchausti 3, Price 1, Woods 3, Lugo 1.