TAMPA — Vinny Panetta ran down the sideline celebrating the jolt he sent into his River Ridge teammates.
The Royal Knights midfielder had collected a loose ball around the 18-yard line and lofted it over Freedom keeper Kyle Peel to send Thursday's game to overtime.
"We thought all night long we would even it up because it was even the entire way," River Ridge coach Michael McHugh said. "It was just a matter of punching through. We sure felt it would be something different. It wasn't."
In the second overtime, Freedom forward Deion Jones extended his senior season at least one more game, scoring the golden goal for a 3-2 win in the Class 4A region quarterfinal.
Freedom's win sets up a rematch of last year's quarterfinal with Land O'Lakes, a huge 1-0 upset in favor of the Patriots.
Immediately after Thursday's game, River Ridge (12-10-1) players congratulated Freedom (14-2-5) and pleaded with the Patriots to knock off Land O'Lakes.
Asked who he felt had the edge, McHugh picked the Gators as an early favorite after facing both teams.
"Land O'Lakes is pretty darn good," McHugh said. "They're very, very good. Freedom's going to have to go out and give them a game."
The Patriots took a 1-0 lead just two minutes in on a high shot by senior Manny Martes to beat keeper Sean Jones.
River Ridge answered in the 22nd minute just moments after an earlier attempt deflected off the crossbar. Royal Knights forward John Thompson sent a shot on goal, which just broke through to make it 1-all before Patriots defender Mike Panter could knock it out of the goal.
In the 29th minute, Freedom surged ahead after Jones beat a pair of defenders, then sent a low cross onto the foot of teammate Doug Yablun. He turned, fired and gave Freedom a 2-1 lead.
"He's a very skilled player," Derflinger said of Jones' goal and assist. "…He's a big part of our attack."
River Ridge didn't dwell on the loss. "Our record won't show how well we played this year," McHugh said. "We've had a fantastic season. It's only building toward next year."