TAMPA - Two long-distance goals and air-tight marking was the winning formula for host Freedom against Bartow.
In a matchup of teams with young rosters, it was sophomore Josh Root and freshman Brian Watson who stood out, each connecting on 30-yard shots to send the Patriots (10-3-3) to a 2-0 victory over the Yellow Jackets (8-8-6).
"We didn't capitalize on our opportunities and they did," Bartow coach Mike Brennan said. "We even outshot them in the first half, but they scored on great, hard shots. You can't take anything from them."
Freedom defenders Eric Herbert, Aaron Zarzeski, Matt Lee and Matt Riesdorph took away quality scoring opportunities from Bartow's offensive standouts. Freshman Calder Wilson and senior David Cobb - who combined for more than 20 goals during the season - were shut down consistently, especially in the second half as Freedom finished strong and won the shooting advantage 18-16.
"We did a good job of marking up on their two double-digit scorers," Freedom coach Dennis Derflinger said. "I thought our defense played their best game yet."
Despite being outshot, Freedom led 1-0 at halftime after Root drilled a shot past diving goalkeeper Michael Leckie, who deflected the shot into the left post before it bounced in during the 28th minute.
Twelve minutes into the second half, Watson floated a shot past the back-peddling Bartow keeper.