Since suffering its first loss of the season to Countryside in the district final two weeks ago, Palm Harbor University has had to travel a long road through the playoffs.
But the Hurricanes keep passing each test, thanks to a stifling defense and timely offense.
In Tuesday’s Class 5A region final, PHU dictated the pace through most of the game but was unable to score until about three minutes remained in regulation, when Charlie Hales hit a free kick from 25 yards that hit the bottom left post and went in for a 1-0 victory over Port St. Lucie West Centennial.
“We dominated the game, we just couldn’t find the net,” PHU coach Alex Delgado said. “Charlie is a senior and came through with a great play. We were definitely not wanting the game to go into overtime and possibly penalty kicks.”
The Hurricanes’ defense, which recorded a shutout in a region quarterfinal win over district champion Wharton last week, came through in the end of regulation. West Centennial had one scoring opportunity, but the ball sailed over the crossbar in the final minute.
“We really didn’t give them much,” Delgado said. “It was a great win for us.”