OCALA — Though Plant City suffered its first loss of the season at what could have been the worst possible time, the Raiders bounced back in the style of a championship-caliber team Thursday night.
Coming off a loss in the district final to Newsome, the Raiders knocked Forest out of the playoffs with a 2-1 victory in the Class 5A region quarterfinals.
"The one thing we told them is that now we know what it's like to lose," Plant City coach Stephen Rossiter said. "We were surprised to be in this position, but we came ready to play."
After going up 1-0 early on a deflection in front of the Forest net, Plant City (18-1-2) lost some momentum to the Wildcats (17-4). On a corner kick from midfielder Zachary Leanhart, Forest answered in the first half with a goal from forward Nathan Lopez. It didn't take long for the Raiders to reassume control.
In first-half stoppage time, senior forward Esjar Montelongo broke away from the Forest defenders. He was able to fake keeper Jordan Crown (three saves) one way before beating him left for what ended up being the winning score.
"They lost their composure a little bit," Rossiter said, "but we did a real good job of keeping ours."