WESLEY CHAPEL — Mitchell got the team it expected, but the outcome was anything but.
The Mustangs (22-3-1) faced 4A-8 district foe Wiregrass Ranch (20-2-2), the team that beat them for the district title, for the third time and soundly defeated the Bulls 5-1.
The Mustangs return to the region final for the first time since 2010 and will travel to Melbourne.
“We knew it would be a good game, a tough match, because we know what (Wiregrass) is capable of, but we were just saying we were surprised we won like that,” Mitchell coach Oscar Ubillus said. “We did what we wanted and accomplished everything we wanted in every way.”
Mitchell jumped out to a 3-0 first-half lead thanks to a goal in the 15th minute by Jordan Koos, Mico Petrovich's team-high 32nd goal in the 26th and C.J. Kirtley's goal in the 33rd.
“We wanted to come out quick, because usually the team that steps up to the plate the quickest is the one that walks away the winner,” sophomore Brady Friedman said. “We did that, and it's exactly what we needed.”
Wiregrass mounted a comeback attempt early in the second half, scoring a goal 50 seconds in after Matt Bradshaw took a pass from Andy Hippley. Just four minutes later, Kirtley would add his second goal and Matt Nelson would make it 5-1 in the 59th minute. Nick Bartkus had two assists in the game.
Mitchell, which is outscoring opponents 108-24, was the only team to defeat Wiregrass this season as the best season in Bulls history came to a close.
“I'm nothing but proud of these group of (eight) seniors that I had on the field as the game ended,” Bulls coach Dave Wilson said. “When you only lose to one team in a season, that's a great year, and Mitchell has been the team to beat all season.”
– Mike Camunas
5A-2: Steinbrenner rallies but falls to East Lake in OT
TAMPA — Steinbrenner rallied in its previous two matches to come from behind and win in overtime. So after the Warriors trimmed a two-goal East Lake lead in the second half of the Class 5A region semifinals and later tied it to force overtime, it seemed Steinbrenner was again looking to come from behind for a win.
But this time, after losing twice to the Warriors this season including in overtime in January's district final, East Lake found its way. Alejandro Gonzalez skidded a left-footed shot into the back of the net in overtime to give the Eagles a 4-3 win and advance his team to Friday's region final at Newsome. It was the first goal of the season for Gonzalez.
Steinbrenner (17-2-2) fell behind 2-0 when Pierre Goris scored on a deflection off the crossbar in the 34th minute and Dino Papadopoulos headed in a ball early in the second half, but Steinbrenner clawed back as Blake Wilson converted a penalty kick in the 67th followed a little over a minute later by a Andres Saenz goal off a Zach Yarish cross.
The Eagles took another lead as Daniel Mahler sent a trickling shot across the line, only to have defender Noah Keene deflect a tying goal in with his left foot just before the end of regulation.
Gonzalez ended things a few minutes into overtime, and his team celebrated by lifting him onto their shoulders around the Eagles bench.
“We get down 2-0 and we start pressing and they start packing the box on us, and that helps us play a little harder — gets us going,” Warriors coach Chad Ebright said. “We came back late twice, almost three times, and unfortunately this is the only one that counts.”
– Jarrett Guthrie