WEEKI WACHEE - Three Hernando County teams have advanced to Wednesday's critical Class 3A, District 7 semifinals.
In the first quarterfinal Tuesday at Weeki Wachee, Citrus senior Jonathan Kreidenweis' breakaway goal snapped a tie to send the second-seeded Golden Hurricanes past gritty seventh-seeded Hudson, 2-1.
With the win, the 'Canes (15-3-1) will face the host Hornets, who defeated Hernando late Tuesday, 1-0 in double overtime on a goal by Bailey Hypes.
WWHS (10-7-1) and Citrus will play Wednesday at 8 p.m.
At 97:30 of the second overtime, Nature Coast Technical sophomore Morgan Vraspir crushed a shot outside the top of the scoring box that the Fivay goalie juggled in his hands before permitting it to cross the goal line in the Sharks' pulsating 1-0 win.
Citrus County's other entry, Crystal River, was eliminated via the eight-goal mercy rule with 60 seconds remaining in the third quarterfinal by top seeded Springstead, 9-1.
With the win, fourth-seeded NCT (11-11) tangles at 6 p.m. Wednesday with the archrival Eagles (17-2-2).
The Mariner Boulevard booters extended their unbeaten skein to 12 matches, featuring 10 wins and two draws, since losing to visiting Citrus at Booster Stadium on Dec. 2, 4-1.
On Tuesday, Springstead had seven different players score a goal against the undermanned Pirate (4-16-0) keepers Kyle Kidd and backup Chris Kallenbach.
SHS, which hasn't lost to CRHS since Jan. 23, 2001, 3-1, at Pirate Field, led 6-0 before a Kyle Dove shot glanced off Eagle junior goalie Matt McDuff's arms. The carom bounced to Raymond Dingler, who rammed home the rebound to snap the shutout bid.
Though the Eagles emptied their bench after their fifth goal, they tacked on three late scores to make it 10 straight wins over the Pirates.
"We weren't expected to make it this far," explained veteran Pirate mentor Bobby Verlato after his team was outshot 32-4. "Last night (1-0 win over Central) was a must-win and we came through. Tonight, we were tired, but we played hard for 20 minutes.
"Springstead is a quality side," he added. "Our goal tonight was to score and I'm glad we did. This team faced a lot of adversity, but it's a testament to these kids that we got this far."
For the Eagles, Hernando County's leading scorer, senior Frankie Fontan, extended his team milestone with a game-high three goals and one assist.
Fontan, who arrived with a county-leading 37 goals and 21 assists, became the first Springstead player in 34 winters to tally 100 or more points in a single season.
Besides Fontan, Tyler Wendol, Will Ebanks, Harry Bennett, Ohno Grabowski, McDuff and Joseph Meyer each added a goal.
Bennett, who arrived with a single-season record of 23 assists, notched two more.
Grabowski and Tyler Arcidiacono also tallied two assists. Fontan and Meyer also chipped in with one assist apiece.
"I love playing with this team," pointed out the 17-year-old Grabowski with a distinct German accent. "This team is very nice. Yes, I miss my friends and family, but this is like a new family to me."
On the match's significance, "I don't think we played our best game yet," added Grabowski, one of the Eagles' center midfielders. "Our best will come in regionals."
"We played great," added 2012-13 All-County defender Jubin Thomas. "We haven't played this well all season. To me, the ball possession is the key. I hope we continue playing like this."
On Wednesday's semifinal matchup against NCT, "It's so big," pointed the 17-year-old Thomas, who turns 18 this weekend. "We all know we make regionals with a win tomorrow - we can't wait."
Springstead's second-year mentor Warren Schmidt wasn't guaranteeing anything on Wednesday.
"Tonight the boys did what they're supposed to do," said Schmidt, whose team has captured back-to-back county titles, but is seeking the school's fourth district title. "I thought this was one of our best passing games.
"We've had targets on our backs all season long - that hasn't changed," he added. "We have to continue playing even better than we did tonight."
Springstead 9, Crystal River 1 (Mercy rule invoked at 79:00)
CR 0 1-1
SPG 3 6-9
Goals - CR: Dingler; SPG: Fontan (3), Wendol, Ebanks, Bennett, Onno, McDuff, Meyer.
Assists - CR: Dove; SPG: Bennett (2), Onno (2), Arcidiacono (2), Fontan, Meyer.
Shots on goal - CR: 4; SPG: 32.
Saves - CR: Kidd (10), Kallenbach (4); SPG: McDuff (1), Correa (1).
Yellow Card - none.
Records - Crystal River (4-16-0), Springstead (17-2-2).
Class 3A, District 7 Boys Soccer Tourney Recap
at Weeki Wachee:
No. 9 Crystal River 1, No. 8 Central 0
No. 2 Citrus 2, No. 7 Hudson 1.
No. 4 Nature Coast Technical 1, No. 5 Fivay 0 (2 OT)
No. 1 Springstead 9, No. 9 Crystal River 1
No. 3 Weeki Wachee 1, No. 6 Hernando 0 (2 OT)
NCT vs. Springstead, 6 p.m.
Citrus vs. Weeki Wachee, 8 p.m.
Championship at 7 p.m.