After a scoreless tie in the regular season meeting, the Plant City High girls’ soccer team knew that they were in for a fight when they took on East Bay Friday in the Class 4A District 9 tournament finals, held at Strawberry Crest.
The Lady Raiders faced a 1-0 deficit going into the half, but battled through, tying the game in the second half before winning it in penalty kicks, after two scoreless overtime periods. The win gives Plant City its second straight district title and clinches a No. 1 seed and home-field advantage for the Region 3 tournament.
“We’re both extremely physical and fast teams,” said head coach Caleb Roberts after the win. “When you put us side by side, you can see that we’re very evenly matched and we love to play them because we love to play good teams.”
East Bay struck first with 19:45 to play in the first half when Allie Haeck broke through the Plant City defense and found the back of the net.
The Lady Raiders’ equalizer came late in the second half in the 74th minute off a second chance deflection from a Plant City penalty kick.
East Bay looked to have scored twice in the first overtime period, but both goals were waved off, with the first being ruled a foul on interference and the second ruled offsides against the Lady Indians.
Plant City had two scoring chances of its own in the second overtime, but both shots went wide.
According to Plant City junior forward Ericka Lott, her team felt confident going into a penalty shootout, where the Lady Raiders won 3-2.
“We’ve been practicing them, so we felt pretty confident when it came down to that,” Lott said.
That confidence was certainly strengthened by the confidence in Plant City goalie Taylor Michael. The Sophomore got three stops in the penalty shootout, to go along with several key saves in regulation, including a crucial save with 21 minutes to play in the second half to avoid going down 2-0.
“Taylor is very good at PK’s and our girls are confident in that situation,” Roberts said. It’s something that we work on a lot in case a game comes down to it.”
According to Michael, who had never faced a shootout in high school, but has been a part of several in club ball, nerves were not a factor.
“I like PK’s,” she said. “I just love the adrenaline rush.”