Palmetto wins Thanksgiving boys soccer tournament title

jdill@bradenton.comNovember 22, 2012 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Pressuring the ball is a key tactic in any soccer match. A lackadaisical approach allows your opponent to dictate the pace, and thus keep you from retaining any possession, rhythm and ultimately, earning victory.

Consequently, it's something that the Palmetto boys team strives to do every time it steps onto the pitch.

And for four matches and three days this week, the Tigers (6-1) did it better than every club in the 2012 Nike Thanksgiving High School Soccer Tournament at Lakewood Ranch's Premier Sports Campus.

Palmetto's latest victim was East Lake as the Tigers won 2-0 en route to capturing the boys division championship on Wednesday.

"That's what we talk about," Palmetto head coach Dustin Dahlquist said. "Constant pressure. Try to trap the other side into a mistake, and we did that twice (Wednesday) and got a couple goals out of that."

Palmetto looked off-balance in the early going, before gaining control of the match. Then the Tigers patented pressure earned the squad a first-half goal from Gregorio Calvillo.

Hunter Brown set up the goal with a workmanlike effort to dispossess the ball from his East Lake counterpart, before sliding an inch-perfect

pass across the 18-yard box for a waiting Calvillo.

The Palmetto forward slotted in the easy finish to arm the Tigers with a 1-0 lead before intermission.

"Hunter did most of the work, and I just finished it off," Calvillo said. "We try to pressure it as best as we can, so put pressure on the defense so they make mistakes. And then we finish it."

Following the restart, Palmetto was out in force again with continued pressure attacking and defending.

The reward came early in the second half as Usiel Martinez buried the second Tigers goal to seal victory.

However, East Lake controlled the match following the second half water break and it's an area Dahlquist will look to his team to improve upon heading into next Tuesday's district opener.

"We have a laundry list of things to continue to work on," Dahlquist said. "But I think that's what the tournament is for. I think most teams that came here, learned a lot about what they have. What some of their strengths are, what some of their weaknesses are. So I think everyone who probably played this week is better off for it."

The clean sheet, though, was still preserved thanks to an unrelenting back four that tallied four shutouts during the tournament.

Those members include two seniors (Franky Paniagua and Eliseo Gonzalez) and two freshman (Abel Dubon and Ben-Avir Espinal-Carbajal), yet they've allowed just four goals -- three coming in one match -- over seven matches this season.

In fact, Palmetto scored 17 goals against none conceded in the tournament.

"That's a pretty good week," Dahlquist said. "We'll take that week."

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