Three-peat! Three-peat! Three-peat!
Those were the screams that could be heard on Friday night as players from the Plantation American Heritage girls’ soccer team yelled up to their fans up in the stands.
That after junior Dejah Cason drilled a shot from the left side into the bottom right corner of the net 2:20 into the first overtime giving Heritage a dramatic 2-1 overtime victory over Land O’ Lakes in the Class 3A state championship game at Eastern Florida State College.
And with that, the Patriots, ranked No. 11 nationally in the Max Preps poll, wrapped up their third consecutive state championship, fifth in the past seven years and ninth overall in program history.
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The state championship winner from Cason came after Alyssa Rodriguez dumped a ball from the corner in front of the net. Melanie Monteagudo one-touched it over to Cason on the left side and when Land O’ Lakes keeper Lauren Arrabito overcommitted to the left side, Cason knocked it in the right side.
“Alyssa got a great cross to the center, Mel [Monteagudo] got a one-touch over to me and when the ’keeper committed to the left side, I saw the bottom right corner of the net open up and just let it go. What a moment when I kicked it because I knew it was going in and had state championship written all over it.”
Despite outshooting Land O’Lakes 23-7, the Patriots were frustrated all night long as quality chances went unrewarded.
Monteagudo, who broke the all-time Broward County scoring record a year ago, closed out a brilliant career and is on her way to the University of Florida. She was especially frustrated as she had numerous quality chances, including a shot with five minutes left in regulation that grazed off the top of the crossbar.
“It was frustrating, for sure, I had some really great chances and was just barely missing, so it was just a matter of keep plugging away and plugging away until something good happened,” said Monteagudo. “It’s just crazy. I’m so excited Dejah did that for us. ... Emotions can’t even explain how I feel right now. What a way to close out my high school career.”
The Patriots stunned Land O’Lakes (24-2) just 40 seconds into the game when a foul call gave Chyanne Dennis a free kick from 30 yards out. Dennis dumped it down in front and when Arrabito couldn’t find the handle, Emily Vasquez knocked it in to give Heritage a 1-0 lead.
“You always have to stay alert down there because you never know when you’re going to get a loose ball on a rebound or something, and that’s exactly what happened,” said Vasquez. “It was great to get an early lead.”
But, despite continuing to pressure the Gators’ goal, no more regulation goals were forthcoming for Heritage.
Then, with just under 20 minutes left in regulation, they lost their one-goal lead when Heritage keeper Julia Kingsley lost track of a loose ball in front of the net off a corner kick, and Victoria Cannat knocked it in, tying the score.
“What a great moment, I’m just really happy for the girls because they really did work their tails off this year because of all the injuries we suffered and all the moving around I had to do with positions and what not,” said Heritage coach Cindy Marcial whose team finished 21-1-2.
If you go
What: The state girls’ soccer finals.
When: Through Saturday.
Where: Eastern Florida State College, 3865 N. Wickham Rd., Melbourne.
Admission: $9 per session; Parking: $5.
Friday’s results – Class 4A semifinals: Viera 2, Navarre 0; Pembroke Pines Charter 2, Venice 1 (PK); Class 5A semifinals: Oviedo 3, Palm Harbor University 1; St. Thomas Aquinas 5, Wellington 0; Class 3A final: Plantation American Heritage 2, Land O’Lakes 1 (OT).
Saturday’s schedule – Class 4A final: Pines Charter vs. Viera, 12:05; Class 5A final: Oviedo vs. St. Thomas Aquinas, 3:05.