TAMPA — Entering his program's first playoff game in five years, Freedom coach Chris Hinkle stressed a simple directive: Stop the attack, counter from the back and through the midfield, and finish. By all means, finish.
In accordance with their coach's wishes, the Patriots dropped that G-rated F-bomb in profusion before roughly 200 spectators Thursday night.
Forward Ashni Deschenes scored off two rebound shots and freshman Ali Diioia lofted two second-half free kicks into the back of the net to propel the Patriots (13-3-4) to a 5-0 rout of Bradenton Manatee (10-9-1) in the 5A region quarterfinals.
"The beginning of the season we struggled with finishing," said Hinkle. "And we worked and worked and worked on it and now that's been the success for us."
The Patriots, who didn't allow a shot to Hillsborough in last week's District 9 tournament final win, held Manatee to four Thursday. One of those, a low, hard penalty kick by Erin Mulrine, was stopped cold by Pats keeper Emily Ball.
Ball got all the offensive support she'd need midway through the first half, when Deschenes, positioned near the front of the net, rebounded a Jenna Stiling shot that bounced off 'Canes keeper Alyssa Brock and tapped it in. Four minutes later, Deschenes did virtually the same thing to give Freedom a 2-0 lead.
"I do my research, and I notice the keeper had given up 30 goals this season out of 90 shots, and what that says is she probably bobbles the ball," Hinkle said. "So we worked a little bit on that at practice and I reiterated it again."
Olivie Bloemke scored Freedom's third goal 10 minutes into the second half. Five minutes later, Diioia sent a free kick from near the top of the penalty box over the defenders and past Brock. In the 64th minute, her 25-yard free kick from the left side sailed over Brock's outstretched hands.
"I tried to aim for the corners," Diioia said. "I didn't know if they'd go exactly in the corners, but I was happy."