TAMPA — Having played Bloomingdale three times entering its Class 6A-8 district title game, Plant knew its Friday night opponent well.
In fact, the Panthers faced the Bulls 10 days ago on the same field in the Wharton Invitational and were dealt a two-goal loss.
Plant had beaten, lost to and tied the Bulls, but with the district trophy — and a region quarterfinal home game — on the line, the Panthers didn't waste any time.
The Panthers dominated from the outset, getting a goal by senior Trevor Berecz off a corner kick in the fifth minute en route to a 3-2 win.
Plant (10-7-1) hasn't won a region tournament game in seven years, but the Panthers will host the region quarterfinals Thursday against the 6A-7 runnerup.
"They needed to come out strong and they knew what the situation was," Plant coach Chris Carbon said. "We've had every outcome we could have had against them. We knew how to prepare for them."
Plant's Ricky McEwan gave the Panthers a 2-0 halftime lead, corralling a loose ball and booting a left-footed shot past the keeper at the 39th minute.
Bloomingdale (7-6-6) didn't score until the 65th minute, when Joseph Sanchez, just minutes after limping off the field with an apparent right ankle injury, scored on a shot that deflected off a Plant player.
For the Bulls, scoring opportunities were rare, and Sanchez's goal seemed to spark Bloomingdale's offense. It made for a more evenly matched final 15 minutes, but the teams traded goals.
"The momentum changed," Bloomingdale coach Troy Smith said. "… I'm hoping they're saving it for the region quarterfinals."