BRANDON — Hillsborough knows a thing or two about being successful as an underdog.
Last year, the sixth-seeded Terriers made the Class 4A, District 9 final, beating Strawberry Crest for the title. So in Thursday’s district semifinal against top-seeded Brandon, the Terriers knew they could do it again.
In the sixth minute of overtime, Blake Rehl scored off a free kick — their second goal off a set piece of the night — to lift Hillsborough to a 4-3 victory.
“We’re always a postseason team, and we always do really well in districts,” said Rehl, still breathing hard from his winner. “We need to defend our title.”
Brandon (14-2-2) scored first when Dylan Dyer had a goal in the 18th minute. Brandon outshot Hillsborough in the first half, but the Terriers scored the next two goals — Jake Kennard had one in the 24th minute and Jean Rony Baptiste in the 34th — to take a 2-1 lead into the half.
The score was knotted twice more after the break. Brandon’s Patrick Feehan scored an equalizer in the 46th minute, but 12 minutes later a Hillsborough free kick into the box was accidentally headed in by a Brandon defender to give the Terriers (10-6-3) the advantage once again.
A Joe Savage goal with just 11 minute to spare tied the score at three and sent the teams into a 10-minute, golden-goal overtime. But it took only six minutes for Rehl to cash in. When the ball hit the back of the net, stunned Brandon players hit the ground.
“Our senior night, they beat us 2-1,” Hillsborough coach Steven Colborne said. “So we wanted revenge. We wanted to ruin their night.”
Like it did for Brandon and Hillsborough, goals abounded for King against Plant City in the first semifinal. King’s Alan Hackney had nine of the Lions’ 20 shots and a goal in the 29th minute to give King a 2-0 lead at the half. The Lions added one more in the 58th minute to win 3-0.
King, which will play for its first district title in more than a decade tonight, tied the Raiders 1-1 earlier this season.
“I’m blessed this year that I have a couple forwards that are big guys and they can move and hold up the ball,” coach Brian Dozark said. “I think tonight we were able to take advantage of that, where the last time we played them we really didn’t.”