Panthers edge Dragons

FROSTPROOF - After 80 minutes of regulation and a pair of 10-minute overtimes, the Class 2A-District 10 soccer champion had not been crowned as the Lake Placid Green Dragons and the Mulberry Panthers battled to 1-1 tie.

In accordance to the rules, after the second overtime, the game went to the penalty-kick phase to decide the winner, where Mulberry bested Lake Placid 4-3 to win the district championship. The win approved Mulberry to an overall record 14-4-5 for the season.

The loss dropped Lake Placid to 15-2-2 for the year, but the Green Dragons aren't done and will play at Berkeley Prep on Thursday in a regional quarterfinal.

"It doesn't dampen the season and our season is definitely not over," said Lake Placid boys soccer coach James Ashley. "I believe we can beat Berkeley Prep Thursday night. What if Berkeley Prep lost tonight and we had won, we would still be playing Berkeley Prep, we just would have been doing it at Lake Placid."

Mulberry controlled the pace for the majority of the first half, pressing the Lake Placid defense and nearly scoring two minutes into the game as they blasted a shot that bounced off the top railing of the goal.

Mulberry's Osvin Lopez swept in from the left to take a second shot on the loose ball, but Lake Placid's goalkeeper, Alfredo Aguillon, made the diving save to keep the game scoreless.

The Panthers continued to press Lake Placid for the next 23 minutes as the Green Dragons slowly turned the tide in their favor.

During the last two minutes of the first half, Mulberry shifted the momentum as they attempted a flurry of four shots, each one thwarted by Aguillon and the Green Dragon defense to keep the game scoreless at the half.

"We gave the game to Mulberry in the first half." said Ashley. "We were very lucky not to have given up a goal, those three opportunities they had, they should have scored."

Lake Placid came out the second half and left little doubt about who controlled the pace of the game. Their tenacity paid off 13 minutes into the second half when team captain Osvaldo Orduna was awarded a free kick 25 yards out on the right side of the field.

Orduna blasted the ball just over the Mulberry defender wall heading towards the goal. It went over the outstretched hands of the Mulberry goalkeeper to hit the top rail of the goal.

The ball hit with such force that it went nearly straight down, just outside of the goal line, bounced over the keeper's head back in play.

The Panther keeper did not see the ball as landed just to his right and Lake Placid's Jorge Godinez charged towards the goal.

Godinez booted the ball into the left side of the goal to break the scoreless game and give Lake Placid a 1-0 lead.

The Green Dragons continued to offensively pressure the Mulberry defense, limiting the Panthers scoring opportunities to a minimum.

With the clock showing just under nine minutes left in the game, Mulberry's Julio Medina was able to make a clear pass down the left side to his cousin Fernando Medina.

Fernando Medina dribbled the ball a few more yards and blasted a 30-yard shot before the Lake Placid defense could collapse on him.

The ball tailed to the right, just passed the diving attempt of the Lake Placid keeper, into the right side of the goal to tie the game at one.

"They are very good and especially after they got their goal," said Mulberry coach Tim Goehring. "Their fans were really into it, we were out of sync and I was afraid they were going to get another one. They kept pressing us, but we were able to survive that and finally got our goal to tie it."

Despite the constant pressure by Lake Placid, Mulberry held on to keep the game tied at one at the end of regulation.

"Our defense does not get a lot of credit because all the guys that score get all the credit," said Goehring. "But our defense, I have been so proud of them this year, we have given up about half the goals we did last year. I like to give them a lot of the credit."

The Mulberry defense held firm as the score remained tied after two overtimes, forcing a penalty kick round.

Taking turns, each team sent five kickers to attempt to score on penalty kicks. With the penalty phase tied at one, Mulberry goalie Eduardo Angeles blocked Lake Placid's second attempt as the Panthers

took a 2-1 lead.

Each of the next two kickers for both teams scored as they headed to the final round with Mulberry leading 4-3. Lake Placid needed to make the shot and block the Mulberry attempt to force another overtime.

In the end, Mulberry did not need to use their last kicker as Angeles blocked a second Lake Placid shot to secure the win in overtime 1-1 (4-3).

"Mulberry was not going to give up and they did a very good finishing one of maybe two opportunities," said Ashley. "My thoughts are I still think we are a better team than we played tonight, I don't think we gave Mulberry our best game."

The Green Dragon season is not over though, as now instead of hosting the next game, they are forced to travel to Lakeland to play Berkeley Prep.