LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Ricky Yanez glided into the penalty area before a collision left him parked on the turf and a yellow card emerged.
But the Lakewood Ranch junior forward wasn't going to the penalty spot immediately, and that created confusion during Tuesday's Class 5A-District 8 semifinal between the host Mustangs and Sarasota.
"The referee had said it was behind the play, and when he came up to me, I said, 'It doesn't matter if it's in the play,'" Lakewood Ranch head coach Vito Bavaro said. "And he agreed."
After four minutes of discussion, the call went the Mustangs' way.
It was pivotal as Lakewood Ranch (13-2-3) buried the ensuing penalty kick to turn a one-goal lead into a 4-1 rout, booking a berth into Friday's championship.
"I don't usually fight for calls," Bavaro said. "I'm pretty quiet on the bench. I don't want to jump on the referees about everything, but I thought it was pretty obvious it was a penalty shot and I pleaded the case. And we won."
Yanez buried the crucial penalty with roughly 24 minutes remaining in the match, which doubled the Mustangs lead to 2-0.
It also triggered a more potent attack from Ranch, which held a 1-0 halftime lead through Connor Bezet's 14th-minute goal despite a lackluster start as the district's top seed.
"We were a little sloppy, a little slow, but we finished," Bavaro said. "We had a lot of chances to score and this game could have been wide open."
Sarasota Riverview, who the Mustangs defeated twice in the regular season, serves as Ranch's opponent in the district title match on Friday. The Mustangs are aiming for their fourth straight district title and will have the chance to do it at home as the top seed.
On Tuesday, they received a brace from Yanez and Bezet to account for the four goals. Yanez followed up the penalty with a right-footed chip just eight minutes later.
Bezet, meanwhile, buried a shot into a wide-open net about five minutes from time for his second goal.
However, that attacking play picked up following the game-changing penalty call. Yanez, though, still had to convert. He did exactly that when he slipped the ball past the keeper on the right side of the goal.
"I already know where I'm going," Yanez said, "and I just put it where I have to put it."