Since it became Palmer Trinity School back in 1990, the number of state championship banners hanging in the school gym totaled exactly zero.
You can now can make that one.
The Falcons boys soccer team had a chance to make some history for the school on Thursday night and did exactly that.
When Alberto Franseschi took a throw-in pass from Ezequiel Cutin in the corner, turned on it and shelved it into the top right corner of the net at the 5:24 mark of the second overtime, it gave Palmer Trinity a dramatic 2-1 golden goal overtime win over Tallahassee Maclay in the Class 1A state championship game at Spec Martin Stadium on the campus of Stetson University.
Falcon players stormed the middle of the field in a wild celebration and then headed toward the stands to celebrate with their euphoric fans.
The win indeed marked the first state championship in any sport for the school since it became Palmer Trinity (the boys cross country team won a title in 1986 when it was called Palmer School) in 1990 after the girls volleyball team came up a notch short two years ago as a state runnerup.
“Ezequiel gave me a great pass and when I turned around, I couldn’t believe how much space I had and the great look I had,” said Franceschi of his state championship winning score. “What a moment for this team, this program, this school. To be the first team to win a state championship for this school is a true honor.”
When Maclay (16-7), the defending state champions in 1A, scored eight minutes into the second half on a Daniel Sweeny goal, it looked like PT’s bid to win the school’s first title was in trouble.
But, just before the second half water break, Cutin came up huge when he managed to get to a loose ball first and, from 30 yards out on the left hand side, he struck a perfect shot that just barely hooked into the top right corner of the net past diving Maclay keeper Taylor Smith tying the game at one.
“What a night, what an incredible game, what an honor to be a part of something so special as this,” said Palmer head coach Eric Perri. “For these kids to do what they did out there tonight, battling the way they did after falling behind, completely gassed and yet somehow finding the stamina to hang in there and get us over the top, it says so much about them.”
There were plenty of heroes on this historic night for the Falcons (21-2) and right at the forefront other than Cutin and Franceschi was PT goalkeeper Matias Acosta.
With the clock inside of a minute left in regulation, it appeared Maclay was going to win it’s second straight title when forward Jordan Pichard, a thorn in PT’s defense all night long, broke loose down the middle after a perfect pass and was one-on-one with Acosta right in front of the net. Acosta charged Pichard who then pulled the trigger and Acosta managed to get his left hand on the ball before a defender then cleared it out and the game headed to overtime.
“When I saw him coming at me, I had no time to think about it,” said Acosta. “If I had laid back, he would’ve beaten me so I charged straight at him and forced him to shoot. I managed to get a hand on it. The biggest save of my life? Yep, you better believe it.”
Said Perri: “We’ve been in tough situations many times this year so these kids know how to battle and you saw how much fight they had in them out there tonight.”lede