BRADENTON -- The Saint Stephen's boys soccer players had the wind to their backs and mayhem in their minds at the start of Wednesday's region quarterfinal.
If only Mel Gibson had been there to scream "Freedom!"
The Falcons charged, en masse, at unsuspecting Largo Indian Rocks Christian defenders on the Eagles' opening kick, seizing the ball and taking two rapid-fire shots on goal.
Seventh-grader Henry Howell scored on a deflection 11 seconds into the match, then Saint Stephen's scored another goal a minute later, setting the tone for a 7-1 victory Wednesday in a Class 1A-Region 2 victory at Turner Fields.
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"That was the game plan," Falcons head coach Marc Jones said. "We were playing on our own field, and there was a big breeze. We really wanted to take it to them and set the tempo for the rest of the game. We did that right from the first whistle, and it led to a goal in the first minute. I was delighted with the start."
Saint Stephen's (16-2-1) was never challenged. The Falcons led 4-0 at halftime and appeared ready to end the match early by the eight-goal mercy rule before the Eagles' Jhett Urie scored with 3:18 to play.
The Falcons outshot Indian Rocks Christian 17-3. The Eagles finished their season 11-6-2.
"I would say we weren't prepared for that start, 100 percent," Indian Rocks head coach Ben Futoran said. "They came out fierce. I was telling my guys I don't think I've ever seen any team come out that strong, that fast. Props to them. That was really well done. That put us in a mental deficit from the start."
Senior Tim Nutter scored two goals, the first coming off a deflected free kick from Matthew Jones 90 seconds into the match, to lead a balanced Saint Stephen's attack.
"We really wanted to make them make a couple mistakes in the back," Nutter said of the early onslaught. "For us, it turned out. It may have put them on their heels."
Toby Howell, Sam Lynch, Conner McCullen and Jorge Zavala also scored goals for Saint Stephen's. Matthew Jones had two assists, while Henry Howell, McCullen and Zavala each had one.
Nutter returned after missing three games with a hamstring injury.
"We've got a lot of our senior players who've been injured are beginning to come back and get healthy now," Marc Jones said. "I think we were just a little too strong for them today. I was happy with the way we moved to the ball and happy with our finishing. It was a good performance."
Saint Stephen's advances to host familiar postseason foe Tampa Prep at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Premier Sports Complex in Lakewood Ranch.
The Falcons will try to avenge a heartbreaking loss to the Terrapins in last year's region semifinal. Saint Stephen's led 2-0 before falling 3-2 in penalty kicks.
Tampa Prep went on to win its fifth state championship.
"We're ready for Tampa Prep or Shorecrest, whoever it may be," Marc Jones said before Tampa Prep defeated St. Petersburg Shorecrest 5-0. "We just have to focus on our game. If we get everybody fit and healthy and if we focus on the things we know we can do well, it will take a good team to beat us."