Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

5A state soccer: Palm Harbor University nabs third crown

Palm Harbor University goalkeeper Max Gallin, center, and his teammates celebrate the boys program’s third state crown, and first under coach Alex Delgado.


Palm Harbor University goalkeeper Max Gallin, center, and his teammates celebrate the boys program’s third state crown, and first under coach Alex Delgado.

TAMPA — As Palm Harbor University coach Alex Delgado stood watching the Pepin Stadium clock at the University of Tampa, nervously counting down the final seconds with his Hurricanes holding a slim lead in their Class 5A state final against Freedom, PHU players gathered around the bench, hoping to catch the unsuspecting second-year coach with the celebratory Gatorade shower.

Three coolers were sent toward the nattily attired Delgado in his trademark black suit. All three missed the mark. It was about the only thing the Hurricanes did unsuccessfully all night.

Behind first-half goals from Alexandre Millette and Andrew Smith and a stingy defense that kept Freedom from equalizing late in the game, Palm Harbor University wrapped up its third state championship, and first under Delgado, with a 2-1 defeat of Freedom.

"I'm just so happy for these guys," Delgado said. "What a game. What a great game. What a great team we played. They were coming in hot. Everybody thought they (Freedom) were going to come in here and take it, especially coming from Tampa. We just proved everybody wrong."

PHU (24-4-4) was relentless in its pressure from the opening whistle and was rewarded with the game's first goal in the 14th minute. Ben Sweat was fouled deep in Freedom territory and sent a free kick toward Patriots keeper Kyle Peel (two saves). Andrew Smith corralled the pass and sent a shot into Peel's gut. The ricochet bounced back to Millette, who shot past Peel for his second goal of the season.

"I just bombed it with my left foot," said Millette, a senior. "Usually with my left foot it doesn't work out, but it did this time."

With the Hurricanes continuing their offensive assault against the Freedom goal in the first half, PHU was awarded a penalty kick in the 25th minute after Sweat was upended in the box by Freedom's Patrick Crowe on a bicycle kick attempt. Smith lined up the shot for the Hurricanes and buried it just inside the right post for a 2-0 advantage.

"I think that might have been the best 40 minutes we've played all year," PHU keeper Max Gallin said. "We felt pretty comfortable (at that point). I was still a little nervous, but that second goal gave us a little bit of cushion."

Freedom (17-3-5) easily could have folded at that point, down two goals to a PHU team that had yet to allow a goal during the playoffs, but the Patriots weren't about to bow out that easily.

A PHU foul outside the Hurricanes box gave Freedom junior Ellis Curry a free kick in dangerous territory. Curry's kick went toward the goal line, but Manny Martes saved the ball before it crossed and centered to senior Doug Yablun, who shot past a sprawling Gallin (three saves) with 24 minutes left.

"It was actually a surprise," Yablum said. "(Martes) passed the ball real quick, and I didn't expect it. I was just at the right spot at the right time."

Freedom (17-3-5) continued pressuring the 'Canes goal looking for the equalizer, but PHU's defense proved to be too stout and the Patriots ran out of time.

"This whole group is great. It's been a great experience all the way through," said Freedom coach Dennis Derflinger of his team's first state final.

"Just being around these guys is outstanding. And hopefully this experience is something we can build on."

With the victory, PHU becomes just the second state school to win boys and girls soccer titles in the same year multiple times. The win also kept Hillsborough County from capturing the 5A state title for the second year in a row (Wharton was the defending champion).

"We were the fittest team out of the four teams here," Delgado said. "We can run all day. …We came out here both nights and just outran teams."

Palm Harbor University 2
Freedom 1

5A state soccer: Palm Harbor University nabs third crown 02/21/09 [Last modified: Sunday, February 22, 2009 2:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up


    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Rays journal: Alex Cobb brilliant, Alex Colome worrying in 10-inning victory (w/video)

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — RHP Alex Cobb couldn't have been much better for the Rays on Tuesday, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning while working eight solid. And Alex Colome couldn't have been much worse, blowing a two-run ninth-inning lead.

    Rays starter Alex Cobb carries a no-hitter into the seventh and pitches eight shutout innings in his best outing of the season.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Pirates game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb continues to look better and better, which could make the decision whether to trade him tougher. Cobb had a no-hitter through six and threw his biggest pitch with a 1-0 lead in the seventh, getting Josh Bell to roll into a double play.

  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park, Pittsburgh

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Blake Snell #4 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)