SPRING HILL — When Alex Viramontes took the Central coaching job before this season, no one could have foreseen how perfect a fit he was for the position.
Working out kinks of inconsistency with his roster, the Bears hit their stride at the right time, winning the Class 5A, District 7 title with a 2-1 overtime victory over Springstead on Friday night.
"We knew all week long that we were going to win," Viramontes said. "It's no disrespect to them, but we knew we could get it."
Armed with leading scorer Omar Odulaja, physical ball-handler David Vitola and slick midfielder Christian Velasquez, Central (9-7-3) wrapped up the top seed in the district with two ties against the Eagles (11-2-4) and won its final two regular-season games.
Odulaja, who had two goals in the semifinal win over Forest, scored less than three minutes into the contest to give his Bears a 1-0 advantage over host Springstead. From there, Central cranked up the defensive effort.
"The attitude was attack first and we could get it done," Viramontes said. "Once we got that first goal, we played well on defense and that was the key factor."
Desperately, Springstead brought up keeper Joey LaSala on a throw-in by Gerry DeCristofaro in stoppage time at the end of regulation. The move paid off as the ball was deflected off Nathan Leathers and kicked in by Cody Emmerman for the tying score.
The play could have been deflating for the Bears, who had led for 77 minutes. However, the sideline attitude reassured Viramontes in Central's quest for its first district crown since 2002.
"They were focused from the get-go," he said. "They got together, and I just said, 'Nobody can take this from you.' "
After some physical play, Derek Morris hit Odulaja for his 18th goal of the year.