Boys soccer: region final capsules

Palm Harbor University sophomore Daniel Olko (right) chases down a loose during a 2-1 district semifinal victory. (Scott Purks, Special to the Times)
Palm Harbor University sophomore Daniel Olko (right) chases down a loose during a 2-1 district semifinal victory. (Scott Purks, Special to the Times)
Published February 14
Updated February 14

All games at 7 tonight.

Class 5A

Plant City (16-1-0) at Palm Harbor University (18-0-1): The Hurricanes, ranked first overall in the state and fourth nationally by MaxPreps, are one win away from their first state semifinal appearance since 2010. To get there, PHU has to beat another formidable opponent. The Raiders are in the region final for the second straight season after knocking off Newsome to avenge their only loss of the season. The combined record of the teams is 34-1-1. Plant City's top offensive threat is Eric Ugarte, who has 20 goals and 11 assists this season. The Hurricanes are led by Hale Lombard, who has 13 goals this season. He also can stop shots. Last week, he thwarted a pair of penalty kicks that proved to be the difference in a win over always-tough Wiregrass Ranch.

Related: Palm Harbor University advances on PKs

Related: Air attack benefits Plant City

Class 4A

East Lake (19-5-2) at Gulf Coast (16-6-3): The Eagles, a district runnerup, have put things together at the right time and are on the verge of making the state semifinals for the first time since 2014. The Sharks, who started 8-6-3, have won eight straight. Last week's 4-1 win over Palmetto was the first goal Gulf Coast has allowed in seven games. That could make things difficult for East Lake's Kyle Carr, who has 25 goals, including a combined three in the last two games.

Related: East Lake gets revenge in rematch

Sickles (13-2-2) at Melbourne (22-2-2): The Gryphons are in the region final for the first time since 2010 and are trying to make their first state semifinal appearance. To do that, Sickles will have get past a formidable opponent. The Bulldogs are ranked ninth overall in the state and 25th in the nation by MaxPreps. But the Gryphons have a knack of pulling off wins against quality opponents.

Class 3A

Merritt Island (21-4-) at Jesuit (27-1): The two renew their rivalry in the playoffs. The Mustangs have won three of the past four meetings in the region final, including a 10-round shootout last season. The biggest matchup is Merritt Island's offense (29 goals in the last five games) going up against the Tigers' stellar defense, which has allowed just 12 goals all season. Jesuit's offense will rely on Lucas Gobea for its scoring opportunities. The sophomore has 16 goals, including three in a quarterfinal win over Osceola.

Related: Jesuit gets season sweep of Jefferson

Class 2A

Berkeley Prep (12-11-1) at LaBelle (20-2-3): It has been a challenging season for the Buccaneers, who dealt with major turnover on the roster and plenty of injuries. Berkeley Prep has overcome all of it to make another deep playoff run. Defense has been the Buccaneers' strength. They have allowed just three goals in the last five games. This could be the most challenging game Berkeley Prep has had in the postseason. The Cowboys have won nine of their last 10 games, the lone loss in that span by a goal to Cape Coral.

Related: Berkeley Prep perseveres to beat CCC 1-0

Class A

Fort Myers Canterbury (23-2) at Shorecrest (16-1-2): The Chargers, ranked seventh overall in the state by MaxPreps, are in the region final for the first time in school history. Shorecrest's lone loss this season was by a goal to Jesuit, ranked second overall in the state. That goal against the Tigers was the only one Shorecrest has allowed in the last six games.  Shorecrest has given up just six goals all season. That defensive stinginess will need to come through against the Cougars, who have scored a combined 44 goals in their last eight games.

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