By Official Florida FC
Andres Villasana cannot stop scoring. The Ponte Vedra midfielder’s brace lifted the undefeated Sharks to the FHSAA Region 1-6A title on Wednesday night.
Ponte Vedra (16-0-3) needed both Villasana goals to eliminate a Clermont East Ridge program that was seeking its first trip to the state semifinals. East Ridge advanced to a regional final in 2021 and was thumped by Tampa Plant. Wednesday night may have been more devastating for the visitors.
Rafa Enriquez scored his team-leading 17th goal of the season in the 42nd minute to give East Ridge (19-6-1) the lead. From there, the visitors didn’t threaten Ponte Vedra goalkeeper Will Sheehan until it was too late.
Villasana drew a foul on the edge of the East Ridge penalty area in the 61st minute. The junior, adjusted his socks, exhaled and hit his free kick into the side netting to equalize. Ponte Vedra sought the go-ahead goal, but it didn’t come until later.
First, Sheehan had to make a pair of critical punches to keep the game tied. The junior parried Miguel Corbi’s 74th minute free kick away for a corner kick. Moments later, he pushed aside the second set piece to allow the hosts to clear.
East Ridge handled the ball in the penalty area and the center referee immediately pointed to the spot. Villasana stepped up and didn’t disappoint the home crowd. His spot kick was his sixth goal of the FHSAA playoffs.
Ponte Vedra won its fifth regional title since the school opened in 2008. The Sharks won state titles in 2013 and 2016, but were eliminated in the state semifinals in 2017 and 2019.
Ponte Vedra will travel to Miami to face reigning state champion Doral Academy (14-2-3) on Saturday night in a FHSAA Class 6A state semifinal. The winner will face either Viera (17-1-1) or New Port Richey Mitchell (21-4-1) in the state final on Feb. 26.