Patriots complete their sweep of Titans for title

Freedom shuts out Tampa Bay Tech for the district crown

Published February 5, 2005

TAMPA - Freedom won its second straight district title, taking advantage of two defensive mistakes by Tampa Bay Tech for a 2-0 win Friday at Jefferson's Horton Stadium.

But there is a silver lining for Tech. Despite losing to Freedom for a third time this season and fifth consecutive time dating to last season, the Titans (11-4) advanced to their first boys soccer regional.

"We'll have to learn from our mistakes, tighten down the screws on defense and move on," coach Mark Hall said.

Tech travels to Auburndale to face the Bloodhounds (14-3-2), featuring Haitian U-20 national players Pascal Millien and Ronel St. Louis. Freedom (9-4-2) hosts Celebration (14-7).

The Patriots earned the championship last season with a penalty-kick win over Jefferson. They went to a shootout again in Wednesday's semifinal vs. Newsome. But on Friday, they controlled play most of the match.

"Our record may not reflect it, but we've struggled a lot," coach Dennis Derflinger said. "We've been a one-half team for most of the season, but (Friday) we put together two good halves."

Rotating freshmen workhorses Rudy Ballesteros and Bobby Huertas every 10 minutes on the left wing allowed the Pats to keep pressure on the outside of the Titan defense. Ballesteros narrowly missed in the 12th minute on a through ball from Juan Balcazar.

Then, with less than a minute remaining before halftime, Huertas took a ball down the left side of the penalty box, cut it back past two defenders and found goalie David Vicente out of position on the left side of the goal. Huertas deftly placed it on the far right side, where it ricocheted in off the post.

In the second half, Huertas shot in another ball that a Tech defender tried to clear but instead sent directly to the middle of the box to Mike Putt, who put away the easy finish.

The Patriots, respecting 20-goal scorer Anthony Forde, swarmed the speedy Tech striker with two or three defenders every time he touched the ball. But the Titans could not take advantage of mismatches created by the triple teams.