TAMPA — Sickles coach Tony Calvo refused to say his team lost. But for the second year in a row, his team is out of the region playoffs after penalty kicks. But unlike like last year, Thursday night's kicks came before the PK round and with controversy.
Naples Gulf Coast (8-9-5) scored early and late on awarded penalty kicks to upset Sickles 2-1 in double overtime in the Class 5A region quarterfinals.
"Those boys are champions," Calvo said of his team. "I don't feel like they lost. They had this taken from them."
Tied at one halfway through the second overtime, Gulf Coast midfielder Sly Szczesniewicz moved into the box before taking a shot that keeper Alex Dichiara collected. The players collided and went to the ground, prompting a penalty call by the referee. Szczesniewicz netted the resulting PK.
Gulf Coast also took advantage of an earlier Sickles' tackling penalty in the box with a resulting PK. Szczesniewicz scored that one, too, putting the shot past Dichiara for a 1-0 lead with 25 minutes left in the opening half. With more early offensive chances, Sickles (17-7-3) managed several shots on goal, then got the equalizer when Gavin O'Malley collected a rebound off a Dillon Kane shot and put the equalizer in the goal.
"We may have been a little sluggish in the second half but we won the majority of the balls. But I just think …it was a bad penalty kick call," Calvo said.