With time running down in overtime, a soccer shootout seemed imminent in Monday’s District 16-2A playoff between Coral Shores High’s Hurricanes and the Conchs of Key West High.
Two minutes remained in the scoreless contest when the Conchs launched an attack that ended in a scramble in front of the Hurricane net. Key West junior midfielder David Mendoza picked up the loose ball and fired into right corner to win give the Conchs the upset victory, 1-0, in sudden death.
“Words can’t describe it,” Conch coach Marc Pierre said.
Victories have been hard to come by in Key West’s 5-11-1 season, Pierre said, “but this is the one that counts.”
Coral Shores players, seeded second in the district tournament by virtue of their sterling 11-2 regular-season run, stood in stunned silence after the sudden-death goal, their white home jerseys damp with sweat and dirt. Some sank to the ground in exhaustion and disbelief.
The Hurricanes had laid back on defense through the first half to avoid a Conch score, then turned up the offense behind junior forward Brayan Rojas and attacking midfielders Alex Jordan, Bryan Placencia and Billy Butler.
Key West sophomore goalie Cole McCandless was the difference-maker in the evenly matched field battle, defending a penalty kick and an indirect kick, in addition to swatting away a handful of hard shots by the Hurricanes.
Pierre credited junior captain Anthony Cabrera with leading the Conchs’ field defense in the shutout. Senior striker Israel Michel led several Conch charges at the Hurricane net.
Key West advances to the District 16-2A semifinal round, on the road to Westminster Christian (7-6-1). The match starts at 3:30 p.m. The winner moves to the championship round at 6 p.m. Friday.
Site of the title match is pending. Coral Shores High School is scheduled to host the final, but the game could be played in Miami-Dade if two mainland schools qualify for the championship.
Kevin Wadlow: 305-440-3206