BRANDON — Mildly stunned when Strawberry Crest landed Friday night’s initial blow, top-seeded Plant City turned to its prolific senior to respond with a figurative flurry.
By the 49th minute, Palm Beach Atlantic commitment Cameron Roberts had essentially floored the second-seeded Chargers.
In dizzying succession, Roberts scored a career-best five goals — increasing his school single-season record to 40 — to lift the
Raiders (16-2-1) to a 6-1 triumph in a highly physical Class 4A, District 9 final. The victory gave the program its third district crown.
“The team did everything,” said Roberts, a rangy center midfielder who scored seven goals in two tournament contests. “I just had to be in the right place. The team did everything.”
Indeed, three of Roberts’ goals resulted from feeds directly in front of the goal box. Another came near the left corner of the penalty box on a Christian Hoyle assist.
Roberts also scored on a penalty kick, narrowly missing on another PK that hit the top of the crossbar and bounced straight down, roughly a foot from the line. Jose Lopez added the Raiders’ final goal, in the 73rd minute.
Preceding all that was a goal by Chargers junior Noah Shaffer — directly in front of the goal box — on a textbook Tarek Kazbour cross 15 minutes into the match.
“I think it got us into the game a little bit, quite honestly,” Raiders coach Chris Black said. “We came into it a little flat and they got a quick goal and it kind of made us say, ‘Hey, we’re going to have to play 80 minutes.’ ”
The physicality increased with the intensity. Raiders senior defender Dalton Hunter and Chargers midfielder Sergio Quijano were ejected for fighting after Hunter was whistled for a foul near midfield in the 24th minute.
By night’s end, six yellow cards had been issued with those two reds.
“This is two teams that are real close in proximity,” Black said. “Strawberry Crest brought it to us. We lost our composure a little bit but we were able to get it back. … Our team stuck together and kept it going so I’m real proud of them.”