Photo submitted by Joao Pedro Castro

Patriots win soccer state championship in thriller

in Soccer/Sports/Winter by

For the first time since 2012, players on boys varsity soccer team can wear medals around their necks after a 1-0 double overtime victory over the Seabreeze Sea Crabs in the FHSAA Class 3A State Championship.

The Patriots entered the game with only one loss on the season (20-1-3), ready to face the reigning champs.

The game was deadlocked at zero throughout the entire game, in part to extraordinary defense by both sides. Patriot freshman goalkeeper Ralph Montero was named player of the game after hosting his 15th shutout of the season.

The first and only goal of the game came from junior forward Sebastian Vidarte with four ticks left in sudden death double overtime. Vidarte, running down the left side of the field, settled a pass from junior midfielder Benjamin Grossi and fired toward the open far post. The ball appeared to be going in when it ricocheted off of Seabreeze junior defender Nathan Thompson’s foot and popped into the back of the net. The goal, initially ruled an own goal, was officially given to Vidarte. It was his 14th of the season and undoubtedly his biggest.

As the ball hopped into the goal, the Patriots rushed the field in a frenzy of excitement. “I felt everybody jumping on me — I couldn’t even breathe,” Vidarte chuckled. “It was incredible.”

The state title is the team’s sixth overall and comes at a perfect time for the young Patriots, a team with only one senior. “I love it because it’s my second-to-last year. I’m super thrilled to get another state title for my school,” said Grossi after the game.

Grossi is a co-captain of the team and had the game-winning assist. “It was the last 15 seconds and I was exhausted, but I knew if I put a little more effort in, we were going to get the result — and we did. I saw [Vidarte] in a better position and I knew I had to give it up to him,” he said.

Coach Todd Goodman, although always looking toward future goals, wants to enjoy this feeling for a little bit. “[Seabreeze] played an incredible game, but tonight, my boys were up to the task. There’s an old saying that it’s a lot easier to win it than keep it, and that’s something we will contend with next year. But for right now, we’re going to enjoy the moment,” he said.

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