It took 99 minutes and 56 seconds to do it, but the wait proved to be well worth it for the Plantation American Heritage boys’ soccer team and the small army of fans that made the trip north.
With the second overtime winding down inside of 15 seconds, the Class 3A state championship game between Heritage and defending state champion Daytona Beach Seabreeze at Spec Martin Stadium appeared to be headed to penalty kicks.
But midfielder Benjamin Grossi and forward Sebastian Vidarte had other ideas. With the Sandcrabs defense perhaps easing up thinking the clock was going to expire, Grossi made one last push down the middle of the field and found Vidarte in the left flat.
Vidarte then beat Seabreeze keeper Cameron Bowling to the ball and fired into the bottom-right corner of the net to give Heritage a 1-0 golden goal, double-overtime win as the clock read 0:04 and Heritage players stormed the field mobbing Vidarte.
“I don’t even remember what happened,” Vidarte said. “I just know Benjamin gave me a great feed and that the clock was running down, so I didn’t have time to think. I just had to get foot on it, and I nailed it. What a feeling, what a moment, I love these guys so much.”
After 80 minutes of fairly non-descript soccer where neither team dominated and neither enjoyed quality scoring chances, things picked up in the overtime period as each team pressed the action.
It appeared Seabreeze had the game won with 3:15 left in the first OT when Jacob McNeely got a clean head on the ball in close to the net that was headed in.
But Heritage keeper Ralph Montero reached out and barely managed to get a piece of the ball deflecting it to the right before Heritage cleared the ball.
“I knew where the clock was so I had to get the ball down the field quick,” said Grossi of his game-winning assist. “I saw Sebastian come open on the left side and got him a good feed. When I saw that ball go in I looked up to make sure we had scored in time.”
The win marked the sixth state title for the Heritage boys but first since 2012.
“Hats off to Seabreeze, to be a defending state champion and make it back to this game shows you the heart and determination of that team,” Heritage coach Todd Goodman said. “But tonight it was my boys who were up to the task, and this was their moment.”
Goodman took over a program four years ago that, after winning four state titles in a five-year span from 2004 to 2008 and another one in 2012, had struggled and dropped off the radar in recent years.
“When I came in four years ago, we had to implement a system where you had to instill a culture where ultimately the boys were going to have to buy in to and they did, but it took a little time,” Goodman said. “We’ve got a very young team, but they grew up in a hurry this year and tonight was the reward for doing that.”