Boys soccer | Palmetto rolls into region final with 4-1 win over Tampa Jesuit

February 3, 2013 

PALMETTO -- Dustin Dahlquist called it the best 20 minutes of soccer his club has played all season.

And it came at a crucial time for his Palmetto Tigers.

As a result, the Harllee Stadium faithful were rocking as they witnessed the hosts down Tampa Jesuit 4-1 on Saturday in a Class 3A-Region 3 semifinal.

Palmetto broke a 1-1 deadlock at halftime with two quick strikes in the second period to advance to the program's first regional final since 2010.

The Tigers host Immokalee, a 3-2 winner over Estero, at 7 p.m. Feb. 5.

On Saturday, Palmetto struck just 16 minutes into the match to grab a 1-0 lead.

After Jesuit (21-4-4) dominated the early flow of the game, Palmetto turned the tide when Zach Reda jockeyed for the ball along the touchline and fed Javis Paniagua in space behind Jesuit's back four.

Paniagua slid a low cross to Gregorio Calvillo, who slipped a second effort into the net after his first shot was blocked. That armed the Tigers (24-1-3) with momentum, until Jesuit was given a free kick off a Palmetto miscue late in the first half.

Palmetto keeper Daniel Martinez handled the ball outside the penalty box while punting the ball away in the

32nd minute.

Jesuit's Michael Conlon curled the free kick inside the right post to knot the score at 1.

But that was about as close as Jesuit would get, with Palmetto stiffening its defense and allowing just three shots -- one on goal -- in the second half.

"At the beginning of the game, they always talk about this being our house," said Palmetto head coach Dustin Dahlquist about his halftime speech. "And we have to protect the house. ... The last question was, 'Which one of you is going to protect this house.' And they all said, 'We are.' They had everyone's back."

That defensive effort, from freshmen Ben Espinal and Abel Dubon and senior Eliseo Gonzalez, pleased Dahlquist and enabled Palmetto to crush any movement forward by Jesuit.

"On a stage like this, playing a team like they have," said Dahlquist, whose team defeated Jesuit by the same 4-1 score on its way to the program's second straight state final four in 2010, "to have two freshmen on defense, that's incredible."

Once the defense was stabilized, it took just two minutes into the second half for Palmetto to regain its lead.

Junior midfielder Tyler Lawrence one-timed a right-footed strike following a long throw-in from Pedro Calvillo that skipped through the box untouched.

Lawrence's goal sent Palmetto's fans into a frenzy, but they rumbled even louder just four minutes later when Lawrence delivered a pinpoint low cross to Gregorio Calvillo's left foot.

Calvillo's second goal completed his brace and improved Palmetto's lead to 3-1.

Usiel Martinez knocked in the fourth goal.

"We really calmed down and really played the next 20 minutes of some fantastic soccer," Dahlquist said. "... That might have been some of the best soccer we've played all year long. Our guys settled down. We had some great individual efforts out of kids, but collectively as a whole they wanted this."

The victory also served as a bit of revenge for Palmetto, which lost to Jesuit in the same playoff round in extra time last winter. Jesuit ended up advancing to the state semifinals.

"It's always a tough battle," Dahlquist said. "That score might be 4-1, but that's not indicative of how hard we had to work. Usually you look at a 4-1 score in soccer and think that must have been a breeze. But they made us work. They made me work."

Jesuit head coach Bob Bauman said Palmetto's speed and aggressiveness on the ball was something his club knew would be daunting to overcome entering the match, and that came true early in the second half when Palmetto scored twice on the back post in quick fashion.

"I don't know if there's anyone that can beat them, quite frankly," Bauman said of Palmetto. "I had the feeling coming into regions that they were the best team, and probably the best team we would face if we could get through (Saturday) then we'd have the inside track. I really think the winner of (Saturday's) game has the best chance to win the t

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