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Tritons falls in regional finals

American Heritage wins boys soccer match on penalty kicks

February 14, 2019
By PETE SISK ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Before overtime began between Plantation American Heritage and Mariner, one of the officials said, "I'd hate see one of these teams lose on PKs."

Unfortunately for the Tritons, that's just what happened.

The Region 3A-4 boys soccer championship went to American Heritage after the Patriots outshot Mariner 4-3 on penalty kicks Wednesday night at Mariner High.

Article Photos


Mariner junior Leo Perez (9) tries to get around Plantation American Heritage defenders during the regional final match Wednesday night. To view more photos from the match, see the Cape Coral Breeze Facebook page.

Playing 100 minutes of tense, physical soccer wasn't enough to break a 1-1 tie. So penalty kicks did send one of the two teams home.

"It doesn't bother me as much as you think it would," Tritons' coach Martin Cardenas said. "It's not anything that I could do. I don't take credit when they win, and I try not to put too much on myself when they lose."

The five Tritons who went out for penalty kicks volunteered for the task.

"This is a matter of confidence," Cardenas said. "You ask the players to step up to the plate. They were the ones who raised their hands. They volunteered and said, 'I'll do it.' It's something that they have to go out and they have to execute."

There was drama throughout, including a disallowed penalty kick score by American Heritage during the second overtime.

Sebastian Vidarte's first shot hit the upright of Mariner's goal and he put the rebound past Tritons' goalie Robert Osuna.

However, after the officials conferred, it was determined that no other player had touched the ball between shots. That calmed most of a lot of upset Tritons and gave the Patriots a turn at being irate.

Soccer rules state that the original penalty kick shooter can't score on a second shot until another player touches the ball.

Mariner just missed on a couple of opportunities to win before the match went to penalty kicks.

"I felt confident going into penalty kicks," Cardenas said. "We have guys who have been playing soccer for a long time. Unfortunately we had two that didn't go in."

American Heritage, the defending Class 3A state champions, dominated Mari-ner in the 2018 region final.

Wednesday night was completely different.

The Patriots jumped on Mariner early, and dominated a good part of the first half. Morris Senior scored off Benjamin Grossi's corner kick less than four minutes into the contest.

It might have been 2-0, but starting Tritons' goaltender Antony Rodriguez took the ball off the foot of American Heritage forward Miles Waters right in front of the goal.

At halftime, the Patriots spoke confidently of scoring early and ending the game once play resumed. They planned on taking advantage of Mariner's move to put Osuna in goal.

However, it was Mariner that came out and dominated the second half.

Nikola Salopek's corner kick was stopped, but Sebastian Lopez-Trujillo collected the rebound and fired it past American Heritage goalie Reed Tillinghast four minutes into the second half.

There were near-misses for both sides late in regulation.

"It's a bittersweet result because I felt like in the second half we outplayed them and created a lot of opportunities. We really had them on their heels," Cardenas said. "We just didn't do enough to put one in the net."

Cardenas said Osuna would have gotten the start in goal Wednesday, but he had missed a practice for a doctor's appointment.

"He's done a lot of good things for us in practice," Cardenas said of Osuna, who spent the regular season on the junior varsity before starting in goal against Cape Coral in the region semifinals.

Still, the decision was obvious when Rodriguez started warming up late in overtime that the more experienced goalie would go out for penalty kicks. Unfortunately for Rodriguez, he couldn't match Tillinghast save for save.

There are no moral victories, but the Tritons (24-2-4) learned they can play with the best the state of Florida has to offer.

"It's a big difference between last year and this year," Cardenas said. "Their coach (Todd Goodman) came over and said, 'Just between you and me, you were the better side tonight.'

"But that doesn't change the result."


Boys basketball

District 5A-10 tournament

LaBelle 57, Oasis 53 (OT): The Sharks' season came to an end one game short of the school's second consecutive playoff berth. Oasis (16-9) and LaBelle (23-4) traded periods, with the Cowboys winning the decisive fifth period (overtime) of the tournament semifinal game.

Community School of Naples 73, Bishop Verot 35: Top-seeded CSN (21-5) had no trouble eliminating the Vikings (15-12). Community School led 29-5 after the first quarter. Israel Torres led Bishop Verot with 12 points. CSN and LaBelle will play Saturday at Suncoast Credit Union Arena on the Florida SouthWestern campus for the district title.

District 7A-10 tournament

Port Charlotte 70, Ida Baker 25: The undefeated Pirates (24-0) put an emphatic end to the Bulldogs' (9-15) season in the district semifinals. Port Charlotte will face arch rival Charlotte for the district championship.



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