Skip to main content

Otero’s hat trick helps Plantation American Heritage sweep 5A titles

Patriots win eighth title, denying Naples its first
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

DELAND, FLORIDA – Juan Otero scored a hat trick Saturday to propel the Plantation American Heritage Patriots past Naples, 3-1, in the FHSAA Class 5A boys soccer state championship match.

The Patriots (19-1-2) took their eighth championship, their first since repeating Class 3A crowns in 2018 and 2019. That came a day after the American Heritage girls won the 5A title with a 0-0, 4-2 penalty kick victory over Cape Coral Mariner.

The American Heritage boys soccer team joined their school's girls team in winning 5A state soccer championships. The Patriot boys captured their title with a 3-1 win over Naples on Saturday.

The American Heritage boys soccer team joined their school's girls team in winning 5A state soccer championships. The Patriot boys captured their title with a 3-1 win over Naples on Saturday.

American Heritage won their second game of the season against Naples, beating the Golden Eagles 3-2 on Dec. 12.

“It’s been three long years since we’ve been here,” American Heritage coach Todd Goodman said. “We experienced some bitter disappointments in that period to get back to the big stage. We’re just ecstatic to be here and more ecstatic to win ourselves another ring.

“It was gratifying to beat a team of their magnitude two times in a season, especially being the second time in the season to win the state championship.”

The Patriots already knew what the Golden Eagles (16-5-3) would bring after their December clash. Otero said film study also helped.

“Before the game, we watched their film against Belen,” Otero said. “We saw that (Ty Collins) was a good player. We were kind of sluggish at the beginning, but everything was solved. We basically shut them down.”

Naples broke the shutout when Harvey Sarajian sent a short cross pass across the 6-yard box to Ty Collins. Collins, while battling a couple Patriots, trickled the ball just inside the right post for a 1-0 Golden Eagles lead in the 13th minute.

“We knew they were going to play the long ball, trying to get it to their two strikers,” American Heritage defender Leonid Levitin said. “Me and my partners talked about it before the game. We talked with the keeper to play the sweeper. They weren’t going to be good with the ball on the ground, so we just put the ball down and went around them.”

Collins and Sarajian continued to harass the Patriots’ defense. Naples coach Robert Prange said he knew the Patriots would make it a running game, but the Golden Eagles kept challenging the Patriots.

American Heritage also dialed up its intensity.

“The whole season we’ve been playing up top, get a lot of chances, attacking,” Otero said. “That’s what we went for. We were kind of slow in the start, but toward the end we started attacking more.”

That began to pay off just before the half. A late first-half foul in the Naples box led to an American Heritage penalty kick. Otero, a Carnegie Mellon University commitment, calmly buried the shot lower right, while the keeper guessed the opposite way, bringing the Patriots into a 1-1 tie with 36 seconds left.

“We attack. We got our goal. Unfortunately, they tied it up with a penalty kick,” Prange said. “That changed up the whole game.”

Nicolas Weyenberg took a pass to the right side, then passed down to Otero. Otero caught the ball on the right corner of the 6-yard area, then booted it just inside the left post to break a 1-1 tie with 19:55 left in the second half.

Otero capped off the hat trick with 3:31 left. After Collins went down hard in the box, defender Xavier Simpson cleared the ball downfield and hit Otero in stride just above the Naples penalty area. Otero then buried the shot to make it 3-1.

“Big players step up in big games. There wasn’t a bigger game than today,” Goodman said. “In championship games, the lights shine just a little brighter, the ball bounces a little higher. The pressure is just a little bit more turned up. But he stepped up, got a hat trick and led us to another state championship.”