With a 2-1 lead in hand late in the second half and dominating possession throughout the match, St. Thomas Aquinas had its eye for a shot at a third consecutive state title in girls soccer.
The Raiders, however, failed to put away host Palm Beach Gardens in Wednesday’s Class 5A regional finals. A crucial defensive lapse, plus St. Thomas’ inability to finish off its quality scoring chances, allowed the Broncos to survive two scoreless overtimes and overtake the Raiders 4-2 in penalty kicks after playing 60 minutes to a 2-2 tie.
The Raiders finished their its season at 21-2-1, while the Broncos (21-1) continue their deepest playoff run in the school’s 10-year history. Palm Beach Gardens next faces Miami Lourdes in the state final four in Melbourne.
Broncos reserve Amber Agrillo scored the tying goal with three minutes remaining in regulation after jumping all over a poor clearance pass by a Raiders defender. Agrillo’s shot from the left wing deflected off the hands of standout goalkeeper Brittany Macaluso and into the goal.
Agrillo clinched the win for the Broncos by converting the fourth penalty shot at the right corner, drawing a wild onfield celebration from the Broncos’ supporters.
“Yes, we did control the game,” Raiders coach Carlos Giron said. “We have a young team that’s still learning. It took just one mistake, and we’ve always talked about playing solid in the back throughout. Our back got caught flat, and they capitalized on it.”
Despite a 1-1 score at halftime, the Raiders clearly dominated the match with their superior passing game that weaved through the defense for excellent scoring opportunities in the front.
Even though they were outplayed, the Broncos struck first, scoring on a Michelle Nilsen penalty kick in the 11th minute of the match to take a 1-0 lead.
The Raiders answered just four minutes later when Sara Perlman finished a scramble in front of the goal with a 12-yard shot near the right post for the tying goal.
St. Thomas maintained control and finally took a 2-1 lead in the 51st minute on a 20-yard shot from the right midfield that went in near the left post.
Even after the score was tied, St. Thomas had several quality shots with at least four shots hitting the goalpost during the final 15 minutes of regulation and twice during the two overtimes.
• District 16-3A Semifinal — Palmer Trinity 55, Westminster Christian 9 - PT (22-4): Arriaga 4, Smith 6, Tagliero 2, Solar 7, Hebb 6, Granada 10, Parten 8, Pino 2, Quintero 4, Waldman 4, Forristall 2. WC: Woodard 3, Infante 2, Figueroa 4. Halftime: 28-7. Three pointers: Granada, Solar, Woodard 1. Rebounds: Waldman 10. Assists: Quintero 3. Steals: Smith 7. Blocks: Waldman 5.
LATE TUESDAY — MATER LAKES 18, WESTLAND HIALEAH 3
WP: Sam Herranz (2-0). LP: Juana. Top performers: Jasmine Harris 3-3, 2 doubles, 3 RBI. Mariah Hernandez 3-3, 3 runs. Melanie Arauz 2-3, 2 RBI. ML 2-0
LATE MONDAY — MATER LAKES 15, HIALEAH-MIAMI LAKES 1
WP: Sam Herranz (1-0). LP: Prada. Top performers: Jasmine Harris 3-3, 2 doubles, 2 RBI. Arlene Calleiro 2-3, 2 doubles, 3 runs. Alyssa Rodriguez 2-4, 2 runs. ML 1-0