PALM HARBOR — With the game's outcome on his foot, there was no way Palm Harbor University's Ben Sweat was going to give up the chance to send the Hurricanes to the region finals.
And there was no one coach Alex Delgado would rather see lining up the game-deciding shot than his talented senior captain.
Sweat, running a 3-on-1 break in the seventh minute of overtime Wednesday after gathering a pass from Jesse Caron, had no thoughts of passing up the opportunity to end a hard-fought stalemate. Sweat dribbled toward the left edge of the goal, then unleashed a left-footed shot that bounced past outstretched Plant goalkeeper Ethan Bayne and struck the far post before caroming into goal for a 3-2 overtime victory for the defending Class 5A state champion.
"Get it on my left foot," he said. "That's all I was thinking."
Asked if he looked for Sweat to dish the ball with two teammates open, Delgado said there was not a better player to take that shot.
"He's not much of a talker, but he just does the work," Delgado said. "In my opinion, he's one of the best or the best that's going to come out of this program."
Delgado encouraged his squad to come at Plant hard early, and the Hurricanes (19-5-3) complied. Cory Cox took a header off a corner kick and sent it toward the middle of the goal, where P.J. McDonald was waiting to redirect it into goal for the first score just five minutes in.
Plant (11-8-1), though, answered nine minutes later when Quinn Ebright's shot struck the underside of the crossbar but crossed the goal line.
Sweat was tripped in the box by Bayne. McDonald converted the penalty kick to put the Hurricanes up 2-1, but again, Plant responded almost immediately, equalizing on Spencer Muratides' free kick from just outside the 18 three minutes later.