Ida Baker's girls are headed back to the state playoffs as District 4A-12 champions after shutting down Barron Collier 2-0 Friday night at Bulldogs Stadium.
The Bulldogs (21-2-4) scored two dazzling goals in the second half to earn their third straight district championship and the right to host a regional quarterfinal match on Tuesday. Collier also advances to the regional quarterfinal, but will have to win on the road to extend their postseason.
Baker thoroughly dominated the Cougars (9-5-4) at both ends of the field. The Cougars did not get a legitimate shot on goal until eight minutes had elapsed in the second half. Before the mid-period waterbreak, Samantha Gomez drew her second yellow card of the game when she knocked down Baker's Payton Van Horn only a few feet outside the penalty box and was done for the night.
Junior Monique Elliott won a footrace with a Cougars defender to a free ball down the middle of the field and delivered it into the net for Baker's game-winning goal only one minute into the second half.
With less than 19 minutes remaining in the game, senior Brittney Herrera blasted a laser under the crossbar from 30 yards out on the left wing for some insurance.
Just as they had done to Fort Myers in the district semifinal on Wednesday, the Bulldogs' defense held the Cougars to very few shots.
Emily Gibson, Jordan Goffar, Shannon Pearl, Rachael Swisher and Ashleigh Weaver spent most of the night defending every offensive thrust the Cougars got past midfield. Their effort kept goalkeeper Amanda Kopale relatively inactive. Kopale chased down more balls way out on the edges of the penalty box than she did in front of the net (three).
The Cougars had just three shots on goal the entire game, all coming in the second half and two of those were desperation salvos from around the midfield stripe. Overall, the Cougars got off a total of six shots.
The Bulldogs, on the other hand, had seven shots on goal in the scoreless first half and five more in the second half with two of those finding the back of the net.
Beating the Cougars was a bit satisfying for the Bulldogs, who were knocked out of the regional playoffs by the Cougars each of the last two seasons when they represented different districts.
The Bulldogs will host the runner-up of the District 4A-11 Tournament while the Cougars will travel to the 4A-11 champion's turf.
District 2A-11: Sarasota Cardinal Mooney rose from certain defeat to score the game-tying goal in the final 15 seconds of regulation to extend its championship hopes into overtime Friday night at Bishop Verot.
After two overtime periods, Mooney won a penalty kick shootout 4-3 to upset the Vikings (13-3-2).
Mooney scored in the game's first 2 1/2 minutes, but the Vikings tied the game midway through the half and took a 2-1 lead in the middle of the second half. Kelly Reynolds and Rebecca Abernethy got the goals for the Vikings.
The Vikings go on the road for Tuesday's regional quarterfinals.