TAMPA — Had Wharton coach Scott Ware been able to script Thursday night's match against Sarasota Riverview, he probably wouldn't have included a shot going in from 35 yards out — through the opposing keeper's legs.
Or a clearing attempt by Riverview caroming off one of his players' legs into the net.
Or a first-half lead of 5-0, and a victory by the final score of 6-0.
But he got all of those things, and more, as the Wildcats scored a surprisingly easy Class 6A playoff victory over the Rams.
"I told the guys you usually don't get these kind of victories at this point in 6A," Ware said. "I didn't expect six goals, not at all."
The Wildcats (11-10-1) dominated the entire match. They put pressure on Sarasota Riverview keeper Gus Pederson from the start, and made sure their netminder, Keenan Kushner, had an easy night. They entered the district tournament with a losing record but Ware joked that their victory over Riverview at least ensures him of a .500 season, though he and his Wildcats are eyeing much more.
Already leading 2-0 on goals by Connor Walker and Felipe DeSousa, Wharton scored three times in the final 12 minutes of the first half to put the match away.
DeSousa scored first, firing a low, bounding shot from 35 yards out that went right between Pederson's legs; then Cody Brown scored from right in front of the net; then Philippe Patino proved to be in the right spot at the right time as a Rams player tried to clear the ball out of the box and kicked it right off Patino's legs and into the net.
Riverview (9-6-3) wasn't able to get anything going against Wharton's strong midfield and defense. DeSousa scored his third goal of the match, and 15th of the season, on a penalty kick in the 59th minute to complete the scoring.