Boys soccer: Knights return to regionals

By DAVID MURPHY, Times Staff Writer
Published January 24, 2008

NEW PORT RICHEY - Early in the second half of his team's Class 5A, District 7 semifinal against Central, Mike McHugh turned to an assistant coach and offered a prediction.

"I said, 'Vinnie's going to win us this game,' " the River Ridge coach said.

He was right.

Vinnie won it.

Sixty-three minutes into the match, junior midfielder Vincent Panetta arched a shot from the touch line into the far upper corner of the net, breaking a scoreless tie and propelling River Ridge to a 2-0 victory and its first region quarterfinal berth since 2000.

The Royal Knights face Land O'Lakes, an 8-0 winner over Wesley Chapel, in the championship game Friday at 7 p.m.

Panetta's goal broke a stalemate that saw both teams miss a fair share of chances. River Ridge (14-9-2) dominated most of the first half, outshooting Central (13-8-1) 5-1 at one point. The Bears had a couple of scoring chances, including when senior forward Cody Grey hit the post off a free kick.

Panetta found himself alone in the corner of the field, took a couple dribbles down the goal line, then lofted a shot while almost even with the net. Seth Wade scored the final goal with just under 10 minutes to play to seal the victory.

"I don't even know how I put it in," said Panetta, a junior who scored just one goal during the regular season. "My foot was the perfect way. It was meant to be."

River Ridge will have to score a major upset if it hopes to host a playoff game. Land O'Lakes (22-1-1), a bona fide state title contender, got four goals from Dominic Cutrofello and three from Felix Soto in a rout of Wesley Chapel (7-11-2). But Cutrofello said the Gators won't take the title game lightly.

"It's the playoffs," he said, "anything can happen."

Class 4A-8: Pirate sets record

WESLEY CHAPEL - Jose Montelongo was well on his way to breaking Pasco's single-season scoring record just two minutes into Wednesday's 9-1 win over Gulf (7-12-4) in the semifinals.

The senior striker knocked in four goals in various ways - two off his head, one from the penalty stripe and another one displaying his raw power.

Hudson defeated Zephyrhills (4-11-6) 1-0 in the earlier semifinal, and the Cobras stayed around long enough to watch the Pirates surge to a 4-1 lead less than 20 minutes in.

The mark was something Montelongo had thought about in recent days. Earlier this season he broke the North Suncoast's career goals mark, which he currently holds with 142 goals. Montelongo has 46 goals this season, breaking his sophomore record of 45.

"That's what I was reaching for this year," Montelongo said. "I wanted to break my record."

Montelongo's achievement overshadowed a night when teammates Cody Sumner and Alex Hollander each knocked in two goals.

The Pirates (20-4-2) will go for their fifth consecutive district title Friday when they take on the Cobras, who were a .500 club just a year ago.

Hudson (15-5-2) scored the winning goal in the second half on a couple of quick one-on-one moves by Scottie Combs, first to beat a defender then the goalkeeper to fire home his 36th goal of the season.

"We're going to push forward," Hudson coach Paul Vescio said. "We like our chances on Friday."

Izzy Gould, Times staff writer


Girls soccer region quarterfinals

All games tonight at 7 p.m.

Class 6A

Sarasota Riverview (11-9-3) at Mitchell (19-3-2)

Class 5A

Newsome (12-2-0) at River Ridge (17-1-2)

Land O'Lakes (12-9-2) at Bloomingdale (11-1-2)

Class 4A

Springstead (17-3-4) at Bishop Moore (17-4-4)

Eustis (16-2-1) at Hudson (20-3-2)