By Kyle LoJacono
Gaither High girls soccer players Lauren Moore and Carly Cepelak each started playing the game almost nine years ago and will continue their playing career in college.
The seniors each signed their letters of intent on Feb. 2, national signing day. Moore will play in the Tampa Bay area at the University of Tampa while studying sports medicine, while Cepelak will head north to Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee and major in nursing.
“I’ve always loved playing soccer,” Cepelak said. “All the off-season workouts and practices were all worth it to know I’ll still get to play.”
Moore said of making her commitment, “It’s a great feeling. I’m so thankful I have the chance to keep playing.”
The two helped guide Gaither to a 12-6-2 record and to the first regional tournament appearance for the program in five years and the second regional finals appearance ever. The Cowboys earned the postseason berth by finishing as the runner-up in the Class 5A-District 9 tournament.
Both girls said they have many great memories playing at Gaither, but one moment stands out. In the 5A-9 semifinals, the Cowboys fell behind 2-0 to northern Hillsborough County rival Sickles High. Gaither fought back in the second half to win the contest 3-2, sending them to the tournament finals and ensuring them of a regional spot.
“It was so exciting,” Moore said. “To come back and win and know we were going to regionals. It was amazing.”
Moore, a midfielder, had a team-high 13 goals this season and added five assists. Cepelak, a sweeper, had one score.
Second-year Gaither coach Trevor Scott had one player sign last year, Ashley Acco with Saint Leo University.
“Seeing them sign is what it’s all about,” Scott said. “They have been great players and leaders for us and we couldn’t have made regionals without their leadership.”