TRINITY — Having not actually played district foe East Lake during the regular season, the first 20 minutes of Tuesday’s Class 6A, Region 2 boys soccer quarterfinal were for taking stock.
The rest of the night was for taking over. That’s how No. 2 seed Mitchell went about matters, rolling to an impressive 4-0 win over the visiting Eagles as junior Aidan Meyer produced his first hat trick of the season.
Mitchell (17-5-4) scored a pair of goals in a 90-second span after the first-half water break, and despite having a man advantage for the final 25, minutes East Lake never threatened a comeback. The Mustangs will host No. 6 Sunlake, a 2-1 in over Sarasota, on Saturday, making for a third meeting between the sides.
The new Florida High School Athletic Association system did not require district counterparts to face off during the regular season, so Tuesday saw a relative stalemate for 20 minutes. Mitchell proceeded to outshoot East Lake 14-5 during the next half of play, and staked its way to a 2-0 lead.
“We changed our formation up at the water break,” said Mustangs coach Oscar Ubillus. “We exposed their outside backs, saw where their weak spots were, and just had our guys stay wide. That was the difference.”
Sophomore Paul Surkov started the 25th-minute flurry that ended with Meyer sneaking a ball inside the right post. Shortly after, Jordan Minaca sent in a perfect crosss that AJ Misemer headed in for a 2-0 lead.
East Lake (10-8-1), which never lost by more than two goals in the regular season, had no response. Although Eagles coach Thurstan Johnson — who repeated “Can we win ONE ball?” often as the first half dwindled — gave an impassioned speech, it was rendered moot when Mitchell converted on its first attack of the second.
Misemer found Meyer for his second goal. Not long after that, Eduardo Rodriguez made a bid for the best moment of the night, but his cleanly-struck volley banged off the crossbar.
Still Meyer would get on the board for his first hat trick of the season with some extra effort.
“I just missed it with my foot, so I just kind of karate kicked the ball,” he said. “Our team just woke up, and when we scored that first goal, the momentum just kept going.”
The only blemish, one which might hurt the Mustangs on Saturday, was a foul that led that led to senior Logan McCabe picking up a straight red card. The foul was indisputable, but Ubillus argued it was a normal foul made to appear worse with the contact of the Eagles player hitting the ground.
Despite the man advantage for the final 25 minutes, East Lake only had one serious threat on goal.
“I didn’t think it was going to be this much domination, but we’ll take it for sure,” Ubillus said.
He conversed with the head official immediately after the game, hoping to convince him that a post-match report will reflect favorably on McCabe’s chances of playing against Sunlake.
The county rivals were even through 90 minutes of both of their season’s matchups: Mitchell rallying from down 3-1 to tie the regular-season match with Sunlake, then Mitchell winning on penalty kicks after a 1-1 regulation in the district semifinal.
Games 7 p.m. Saturday unless noted.
7A: No. 8 Ridge Community at No. 4 Steinbrenner
6A: No. 3 Bloomingdale at No. 2 Melbourne
6A: No. 5 Wiregrass Ranch at No. 1 Palmetto
6A: No. 6 Sunlake at No. 2 Mitchell
5A: No. 3 Cape Coral at No. 2 Seminole
5A: No. 4 Land O’ Lakes at No. 1 Jesuit
5A: No. 6 King at No. 2 Lake Gibson
4A: No. 7 Nature Coast at No. 3 Cypress Creek
3A: No. 5 The Villages at No. 1 Tampa Catholic
2A: No. 5 Indian Rocks Christian at No. 1 Shorecrest
2A: No. 3 Carrollwood Day at No. 2 Foundation Academy