High School Sports

Boys soccer | Palmetto works overtime to win seventh straight district championship

ST. PETERSBURG -- They didn't make it easy on their 64-year-old, first-year head coach, but the Palmetto Tigers grabbed their seventh consecutive boys soccer district championship in thrilling fashion Friday night.

Palmetto freshman Candido Calvillo volleyed in classmate Alfredo Manriquez's perfect cross past helpless St. Petersburg Northeast goalkeeper Michael Winsor for the winner 6 1/2 minutes into overtime for a 1-0 Tigers win in the Class 4A-District 10 final at Northeast.

"We led time of possession, kept the ball moving, but the Northeast counterattack was very dangerous," said Mike Meehan, who won a district title in his first year as the head coach. "(Goalkeeper Matt) Simmonds came up big with two or three huge reaction saves."

Winsor commanded play for most of the match, but the Tigers (11-3-3) found a way. Palmetto will host Plant City in a Region 3 quarterfinal at 7 p.m. Jan. 29. Northeast will travel to Gibsonton East Bay.

"We all knew this was it for the seniors," Winsor said. "We haven't won districts in the four years they've been here."

It took that kind of play to beat Winsor as he stoned Palmetto on four occasions, the biggest coming late in the first half when he closed out to smother the ball off of Julio Cantu's foot, then sprinted to snag Raul Loera's rebound try chest-high.

"Michael's last five games have been spectacular," Viking coach Tom Blauvelt said. "We want him to be more aggressive and (Friday) it was almost a little too much, but he played great."

A big save by Simmonds robbed Njegos Drazic in the first half. Aleksandar Sljivic and Ervin Ikonovic authored opportunities for Northeast (14-5-4) in the wind-aided second half.

"You can't underestimate the effect of the wind on the game. It gets into your body and your head," Blauvelt said. "We got off to a slow start but when we had the wind at our back, we went for it."

-- The Tampa Bay Times contributed to this report