PLANT CITY — Fast, furious and relentless, Plant City and Strawberry Crest sprinted and collided all over the field during Friday night's Class 5A, District 6 boys soccer final.
After 80 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtimes —featuring numerous heroic shots and saves — the score was tied 1-1.
Then came penalty kicks … and more drama.
After five rounds of PKs, the teams were again tied, this time four apiece in successful shots. On the sixth attempt, however, Strawberry Crest missed.
That's when Plant City sophomore Adrian Olivo, who didn't play at all during the regulation or overtime periods, stepped to the line for a penalty-kick attempt.
"Coach asked who felt confident kicking the penalty kicks and I was the first one to raise my hand and volunteer," said Olivo, who said he gained much of that confidence from performing as the football team's kicker. "I'm used to coming in this type of situation and making a kick. I felt I could do it."
The ball sailed cleanly into the back of the net, setting off a wild celebration and huge cheers from the 1,000 or so fans who were on their feet.
Olivo's PK goal finally ended a titanic battle between these teams who know each other intimately because they all compete together in club soccer.
"It's always like this when we play each other," Plant City coach Caleb Roberts said. "But this game might have even been more intense than usual. I can never remember seeing a better district final."
Strawberry Crest (11-5) actually took the lead in the 58th minute when Gabriel Aguilera buried a 25-yard shot into the goal's right corner, sending off a wild celebration that involved running in front of the large Chargers fan contingent.
Plant City (14-0-1) answered a minute later when "Pifa" Epifanio Castro sent a bomb from 35 yards that sailed into the chest of Luis Eduardo Enriquez, the Strawberry Crest goalkeeper. The ball ricocheted over the head of Enriquez and into the net.
From there, both sides had several near misses, and Strawberry Crest suffered a troubling loss of Enriquez, who damaged his shoulder in a collision and left the game with five minutes left in the second overtime.
The Chargers were then forced to use a back-up keeper for the penalty kicks.
"We felt good heading into the penalty kicks because I have so much confidence in all my guys," Roberts said. "Wow, what a great game. It was awesome."