Boys soccer: Raiders keeper wraps up title

By BRANDON WRIGHT, Times Correspondent
Published January 26, 2008

PLANT CITY - Alex De La Garza wasn't having his best night. Plant City's senior keeper had given up four goals, including the tying strike during extra time, in the Raiders' 6A-8 final against Sarasota Riverview.

But during penalty kicks, no one was better. De La Garza stopped a PK and converted the winner as the top-seeded Raiders won the championship for the first time since 2006, defeating the Rams 5-4 (5-4 in PKs) Friday.

"That was some game to watch, huh?" Plant City coach KC Van Der Luit said. "It's a shame it had to end in PKs, but we were the lucky team tonight."

Tied at 1 in PKs, De La Garza dove to his right and smothered a shot from Cesar Chuquizuta.

"I look into (the shooter's) eyes," De La Garza said. "If they look one way, I go the other."

After Plant City's Jordan Barry converted, Riverview keeper Andrew Monroe got his hands on Isias Torres and Matt Kirkland's shots, but both went in. The Rams tied at 4, then De La Garza took off the gloves and buried a shot into the lower right corner. The Raiders (14-2-3) jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first 15 minutes on a pair of Stevie Lamas goals. The Rams fought back to tie before taking the lead three minutes into the second half.

A.J. Black's header in the 49th minute tied it at 3, then Lamas completed his hat trick, redirecting a Brian Fekete cross in the 52nd minute. As the regulation whistle neared, Dan Meacock tapped in the equalizer.

Plant City 5 Sarasota Riverview 4

5-4 on penalty kicks