ST. PETERSBURG — Shorecrest will play for its first boys soccer state championship after a convincing 3-1 win over Maitland Orangewood Christian on Saturday night.
The Chargers, who have not lost a home game in two years, scored in the first five minutes, built a three-goal, second-half lead and held on for the win.
Shorecrest will play for the Class A championship on Thursday at 4 p.m. in DeLand against Palmer Trinity, the defending state champion.
“This is a dream," Shorecrest junior Turner Bramlet said. “We’ve worked for this all year. It’s been our goal. Our goal is to get there and win it."
The Chargers (19-3-1) wasted little time in scoring the game’s first goal. In the fifth minute Max Consoni passed to Brendan Smith, who was open on the left side of the 18-yard box. Smith made a move to shake a defender and buried a left-footer from 6 yards out.
“We wanted to hop down their throats early," Smith said. “Every team struggles with pressure. We knew they would be tired after a two-hour bus ride, so just go get them early.”
Shorecrest continued to control play and found the net again in the 30th minute. Smith raced down the right side and sent an arching cross into the box. Bramlet got a head on the ball and redirected it into the right side of the net for a 2-0 lead.
“Brendan gave me a beautiful ball,” Bramlet said. “It just found my head and I did the best I could to put it in the back of the net.”
In the 46th minute the lead grew to 3-0. After a saved shot went back into play, John Shehu settled the ball and cranked a shot from 15 yards. The ball sailed into the upper right corner.
“I saw the guy coming up behind me so I figured just get the shot off and maybe it goes in,” Shehu said. “I just went for it. And I didn’t want to kick it right in front of the goal. So either go up top or miss it.”
Things got a bit interesting with 24 minutes to play. The Rams (16-4) earned a corner kick after a Danny Rouse free kick from 25 yards was saved by keeper Lucas Murphy. The kick curved in front of the net in front of several players. The Rams were able to kick it in from close range to make it a two goal game.
For the remainder of the game Shorecrest continued to put on offensive pressure and the defense did not allow another chance.
Shorecrest has never advanced to the state title game. The school already has one state championship this season. The volleyball team won its first state title in the fall.