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Wednesday, Sep 20, 2017
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Boys soccer: Last gasp Wolves take title

PLANT CITY - PLANT CITY - Mark Calhoun's looping header from a long throw-in in the 79th minute gave Newsome its first district boys soccer title as the Wolves defeated Plant City 2-1 at Durant on Friday night. "Awesome," Calhoun said. "This is pretty indescribable. I can't say much, I'm just so excited." Joey Perfetto's long throws into the penalty area had been a constant source of danger for the Wolves, but for the most part the Raiders had dealt well with them. But Calhoun rose above a group of players and looped a header under the crossbar and into the goal to give his side the victory. "It's everything we wanted all season," Newsome coach Neal Rickmers said. "It's part of our arsenal, and we use it just as a corner kick or any other free kick, and to have this many chances and it not go in, I was glad to see it go in when we needed it the most."
Plant City had appeared to send the game to overtime two minutes earlier off a long throw of its own as A.J. Black looped a shot from 15 yards into the empty goal after the Wolves goalkeeper was unable to claim the throw into the penalty area. Plant City had opened the better of the two sides, Jorge Martinez nearly opening the scoring in the third minute as the Raiders took control of the game. After defensively weathering the first 10 minutes, though, the Wolves started to apply more pressure to the Raiders midfield and began to turn the tide. "After the first 15 minutes, they stepped up the pressure, and they never let up all the way to the end," Plant City coach Stephen Rossiter said. "They outpressured us today, but overall both teams really battled it out to the end." Aside from Perfetto's long throw-ins, the Wolves also went close to breaking the deadlock in the first half from a pair of free kicks, Skylar Wilks hitting the crossbar from 35 yards out on a shot from the right and Carlos Galeano seeing his looping header from a free kick go off the top of the crossbar and behind for a goal kick. Newsome took the lead in the 50th minute through Steven Gonzalez. Galeano picked up the ball on the left and sent an angled cross to the right corner of the 6-yard box where Gonzalez controlled on his chest and fired home. "Everyone is happy. I've got phone calls, everything," Gonzalez said. "This is the best day of my life." The Wolves will host Brooksville Central in Thursday's region quarterfinals, while Plant City will travel to face Ocala Forest.

Nicholas J.E. Murray can be reached at (813) 259-8243.

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