TAMPA — When goals are in abundance like strawberries in February, a soccer coach will glance at the scorebook to recall goal scorers. Throughout Freedom's Class 5A playoff run the practice has become routine.
The Patriots (16-2-5) used another offensive avalanche Friday to beat Lake Howell 6-1 and advance to their first final four. This marked the second consecutive match Freedom scored six goals, outscoring opponents 15-6 in three playoff games.
"You've got to be happy with that, right?" Patriots coach Dennis Derflinger said. "Whatever it is, let's keep it up."
Freedom forward Manny Martes became the second Patriot in two games to notch a hat trick after scoring the first three goals Friday. He broke through in the third minute, sneaking past the defense and knocking in a header off a free kick by Deion Jones, who had three assists and a goal.
Lake Howell (19-4-2) had a chance in the 19th minute when senior Mike Strapp fired from inside 18 yards. Patriots keeper Kyle Peel made a diving save, then stopped a second shot.
"Kyle made two great saves," Derflinger said. "They put that ball in the net it might change the momentum and it could have been a different outcome for us."
In the 30th minute, Martes flicked another header in off a free kick, this one from senior Mike Panter for a 2-0 lead.
"Usually, we got out on the weekends and kick around and stuff," Martes said of Panter. "Actually, I scored like that against Wharton."
Martes made it 3-0 in the 44th minute, and junior Alex Landeta made it 4-0 in the 72nd minute. Lake Howell scored with about six minutes left, but Jones answered within a minute to make it 5-1. Landeta added one more.
"We made it to the final four," Derflinger said. "That was one of our goals in the beginning to get there and hopefully win a state championship."