John I. Leonard boys win district title on PKs


John Diaz just had to clear his mind. Don’t think about what the shot means, about how he could win John I. Leonard’s second consecutive boys soccer district title with his right foot.

“Just clear your mind and hit it in the goal,” the junior said.

Diaz launched his shot past Royal Palm Beach (16-6-3) goalkeeper Roland Tyson and was quickly mobbed by his teammates. His penalty kick won the Lancers (17-1) the District 11-5A championship Friday night 5-4 on penalty kicks after the teams finished overtime knotted at two.

Top-seeded John I. Leonard was just a few minutes from wrapping the game up in regulation.

Diaz scored twice in the game’s early going. He scored for the first time in the 33rd minute, then again just after halftime on an assist from senior Luis Molina.

“(Diaz is) my all-around player,” Lancers coach Tim Gally said. “He plays defensive midfield for me, defensive back. He’s my all-around player. The guy hustles like no other player.

“For him to score two goals like that was just awesome for us.”

But the second-seeded Wildcats did not give up.

Royal Palm got on the board with a goal by Vicente DeBrito, who volleyed a ball out of midair over the John I. Leonard keeper. The Wildcats kept pressing but couldn’t get another — until the game’s final minutes.

A Wildcat sent a cross into the box in the game’s 80th minute, and it found Tajae Morgan’s head. Morgan directed the ball into the back of the net, tying the game and sending it to overtime.

Neither side could gain an advantage in overtime, trading fruitless attacks. The teams went to penalty kicks, with each one hitting the first three.

But Tyson lined up to take Royal Palm’s fourth shot, and the ball sailed just over the crossbar, setting up Diaz’s winner.

John I. Leonard will face Coconut Creek-Monarch in the regional quarterfinals and Royal Palm Beach will square off with Atlantic, which beat Coconut Creek-Monarch to win District 12-5A.

“(Being) two-time defending district champion gives you a lot of confidence,” Gally said. “Hopefully, moving into the next round, we continue with this and advance as far as we ever have.”

American Heritage 5, King’s Academy 0: Douglas Phillips scored two goals as the top-seeded Stallions (15-3-1) routed the second-seeded Lions in the District 13-3A final in Palm Beach Gardens. Heritage advances to host Coconut Creek-North Broward Prep in Wednesday’s regional quarterfinals.



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