Boys soccer | Palmetto hopes third time the charm at state semifinals

Tigers will face reigning champs in 3A semifinal

HERALD STAFF REPORTFebruary 8, 2013 

The Palmetto boys soccer team will forever hold the distinction of being the first Manatee County public school program to advance to the state final four.

But the Tigers haven't won a game in two previous trips to the state tournament.

And if they are to become the first Manatee public school to win a title, they'll have to go through the defending state champions.

Palmetto (25-1-3) will visit Plantation American Heritage (22-3-2) at 7 p.m. Friday in the Class 3A state semifinal. The winner will play either Ponte Vedra or Land O' Lakes Sunlake in the state final at 10:05 a.m. Feb. 16 in Melbourne.

American Heritage is at home based on a bracket rotation. Before last season, state semifinals were played at a neutral site.

"We picked the wrong year to win it," Palmetto head coach Dustin Dahlquist said after Tuesday's 4-0 Region 3 final victory over Immokalee. "I'm real disappointed they took away that central location for the final four. That made it a little bit more special. But at the same time, you know what, we've got to play well Friday night."

The Patriots defeated Merritt Island 2-1 in the region final. Jamar Campion-Hinds, who signed Wednesday to play at Florida International, scored both goals, the second coming in the final three minutes.

In its region final win, Palmetto scored four goals for the fourth consecutive postseason match. The team's leading scorer, Gregorio Calvillo, scored twice as the Tigers cruised.

Palmetto has given up one goal during the postseason, and that came against nemesis Tampa Prep during a 4-1 victory in the region semifinal.

The Tigers have been competitive in their previous state semifinal losses. In 2009, they fell 2-0 to eventual state champion Merritt Island. The next season, they played Jacksonville Stanton to a scoreless tie through 100 minutes before falling 1-0 on penalty kicks.

"Hopefully the third time's the charm," Dahlquist said. "American Heritage is one of the top programs in the state. We just played one in Tampa Prep."

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