District soccer: Smooth sailing for Strawberry Crest, Plant City
PLANT CITY – The top seeds in the Class 5A, District 6 boys soccer district semis looked at ease in a pair of 4-0 drubbings as Strawberry Crest and Plant City earned spots in Friday’s district final.
Undefeated Plant City (13-0-1) look every bit the top seed as the Raiders speed got them ahead early, and designed plays and executions sealed a decisive win against Riverview.
Junior Eric Ugarte was in the right spot in the 10th minute as a ball bounced around in the box, getting a toe on it just as the Sharks keeper was coming off his line.
The Raiders' second goal came in the 35th minute as Luis Leos was the lucky recipient of a third chance after the Sharks failed to clear a corner kick in the box. Plant City fired a shot off the keeper and one off the cross bar before Leos was able to get a right-footed strike for the goal.
The second half, though, was pure precision as the Raiders’ setups were getting things dangerously close with passes finding strikers only to go just high or wide. Ugarte, however, made a pair of tremendous runs a few minutes apart late in the second half, first down the right side beating a defender before crossing it to Ronaldo Rodriguez for the one-touch finish, and a mirrored play on the opposite side, this time finding Andrew Sotello for the score.
“This is a family,” Ugarte said. “I work hard for them and they are always working hard for me.”
“It’s always that third goal that counts, the one that puts the game away, and I felt it when we got that third one.”
“Eighty minutes of hard work earned us two more games,” first-year coach Caleb Roberts said. “That was our big thing, not just necessarily a district title but getting in that state tournament and from there anything can happen.”
In the early game, Strawberry Crest, which last made a region appearance in 2013, got a little bit of revenge by toppling three-time defending district champions Newsome as the Chargers have seen their previous two seasons ended by the Wolves in early district rounds.
Wednesday, Strawberry Crest (11-4) took little time getting ahead as Daniel Guerra settled a pass from Randall Sapp and sent in a shot that passed just under the cross bar in the fourth minute.
“It was important to set the tone,” Guerra said. “We haven’t beat them (in districts) for five years, this is very uplifting for us.”
The Chargers added some insurance before the half as Gabriel Aguilera beat a pair of Wolves’ defenders and drilled the ball just inside the post.
Newsome (16-5) looked out of sorts the entire way as players noticeably argued among themselves.
Sapp got the key third goal in the 51st minute, winning a one-on-one batte to his right, drawing out the Wolves keeper and sending an angled shot to the far post. Antonio Macedonio added some late insurance, cleaning up a loose ball after a corner kick in the final minutes.
The Chargers defense, keyed by Oscar Marquez, made some nice plays in the box, and keeper Luis Enriquez had seven saves in the shutout.