Taravella senior Darwin Espinal was in third grade the last time the Trojans earned a regional victory a decade ago.
On Tuesday, he scored a goal and recorded three assists as Taravella beat host South Plantation 4-1 in a Class 5A regional quarterfinal at Sandra Darr Field at Paladin Stadium.
“We’re just happy that we won,’’ said Espinal, whose school last reached regional play in 2008, losing to South Broward. “It was a good game for us. We scored early, so that helped us a lot, and we just kept possession of the ball.’’
Espinal’s strike on a penalty kick gave the Trojans (19-3-2) a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute. Sorel St. Fleur had knocked down sophomore John Lewis on a cross. Two minutes later, senior Estaban Ochoa floated a kick over the keeper on an assist from Espinal.
Sophomore Luis Villamizar deflected Espinal’s cross following a corner with 28 minutes remaining to extend the lead to 3-0.
Espinal collected his third assist in the 60th minute when Lewis beat the incoming keeper to a pass at the top of the box, driving it into the open net.
South Plantation (11-8-3), searching for its first regional victory since 1998, had upset St. Thomas Aquinas 1-0 in overtime last week to capture the District 12-5A title. St. Fleur scored the Paladin goal on a penalty kick in the 76th minute.
Taravella will play either the Raiders on Saturday night.
“We created a lot of good opportunities and finished a couple against a very good team,’’ first-year coach Mike Goodrich said. “This year there’s good chemistry on the team. They work hard and listen.’’
CHRISTINA DE NICOLA
• Region 4-5A quarterfinal — West Broward 3, Miami Beach 2: A beautiful corner kick/header into the top left corner of the net from the combination of Alexander Rodriguez to Nicolas Perez in the game’s 63rd minute snapped a 2-2 tie and proved to be the game-winner for West Broward at Milander Stadium.
It marked the first-ever regional win for the Bobcats (12-7-3), who will now travel to Cypress Bay on Saturday night for a regional semifinal contest and a chance to avenge a 1-0 overtime loss to the Lightning in the district final last week. The win also avenged WB’s 2-1 loss to Beach in the same round a year ago. Beach finished 12-5-3.
“Amazing,” said West Broward coach Rodrigo Frank. “Nicolas is the shortest kid out there on the field, so who would’ve ever figured he’s going to be the one to go up and head it in — but that’s how soccer is sometimes.”
The first half was a relative scorefest as each team put two goals in. West Broward took the lead in the 13th minute on a Nicolas Guevara goal to go up 1-0.
Beach tied it 1-1 in the 27th minute when Tomas Moffat knocked in a loose ball off a rebound from the keeper who could not handle an Alan Diaz direct kick from 20 yards out.
The Bobcats went back up 2-1 three minutes later on a corner kick from Santiago Santiestevan that found Guevara who headed it into the top left corner. WB’s lead lasted just two minutes, though, when the Hi-Tides executed their own corner kick, Diaz centering and Christian Sanchez popping it in to tie it at 2.
• Region 4-5A quarterfinal — Cypress Bay 2, Miami High 0: Though not as sharp as coach John Ramos would have wanted, Cypress Bay — scoring both its goals in the first half — used its methodical quick-passing possession game to eliminate visiting Miami High.