PLANT CITY — The kind of match Newsome coach Neal Rickmers has daydreams — even delusions — about came to fruition for 19 surreal minutes Tuesday at Durant.
Displaying more energy and crispness than the host school, the second-seeded Wolves (14-4-3) got three goals from three players before the first water break en route to a 3-1 triumph against the No. 3 Cougars in the semifinals of the Class 5A, District 8 tournament.
"I just sat back and watched," Rickmers said. "It's everything I ever wanted to have them do all season, and it was very enjoyable to just see them all put it together."
Newsome, which earned the program's first playoff berth with the triumph, faces top-seeded Plant City (13-1-2) in Friday's 7 p.m. final. The Raiders also got goals from three players in a 3-1 win against East Bay.
Newsome struck first in the ninth minute, when Skylar Wilks sent a free kick from the right side of the penalty box up top to junior Matt Staggs, who nailed a shot past rangy Cougars keeper Connor Bass. It was Staggs' second goal of the season, and second in as many nights.
Five minutes later, Steven Gonzalez sent a nifty cross to Armani Alicea, who converted from just inside the penalty box's right side. Then in the 18th minute, senior Harold Gussman pinpointed a low shot from the right side past Bass to the low left corner of the net.
"We kind of needed halftime after 10 minutes of the game," Cougars coach Jamin Hollingsworth said.
Similarly, Plant City exploded early against East Bay (14-4-1), scoring four minutes in when A.J. Black dribbled down the left side and shot from about 5 yards. Jorge Martinez and Marcus Svensson also scored for the Raiders, who earned their second playoff berth in three years.
Black exited late in the game after injuring his left quad while going for a 50-50 ball. He had to be assisted off the field, but said he expects to play Friday against Newsome, whom the Raiders played to a 3-all tie in November.
"To beat Plant City, we're going to have to go the whole 80 minutes," Rickmers said.