For the Cape Coral Seahawks, it was redemption for last season. For senior midfielder Kevin Lopera, it was making up for lost time.
After suffering their only defeat last season in the district finals to Fort Myers, the Seahawks didn't want to suffer their first true blemish in the same game again.
With the help of Lopera, who was suspended for last year's district final for a red card he received previously, the Seahawks took the lead and pulled away Friday night for a 4-0 win over South Fort Myers in the District 3A-11 championship game at Mariner High School.
The reigning Class 4A state champion Seahawks (20-0-2), who extended their unbeaten streak to 28 straight games, will host Golden Gate or Immokalee Tuesday night at Dave Warkentin Field. Golden Gate advanced with a 2-0 win over Immokalee Friday.
"I told them to play to win, not play not to lose," said Cape Coral coach Aldo Nardiello. "This was a game we wanted to win. Wednesday was the game we had to win."
Lopera scored twice to lead a dominant attack that kept the ball in South's end for the majority of the game and demoralized the Wolfpack in the second half.
The Seahawks, who posted their 16th shutout win of the season, started the game on the attack. South absorbed and countered with Pedro Lerma and Matt Tavares having early chances to get the Wolfpack (9-5-3) on the scoreboard, but to no avail.
Eventually, the Seahawks' attack became too much, and in the 29th minute Lopera was fouled in the penalty area by South's Daniel Torres, who hurt his ankle and was given a yellow card adding insult to the injury.
Lopera, who said he takes all the penalty kicks and doesn't remember missing one, didn't fail this time either as he booted it into the left corner to make it 1-0.
"Kevin has stepped up since he was 9. He has a golden left foot," Nardiello said.
In the 37th minute, Lopera took a beautiful throw-in from senior midfielder Nathan Stone and left-footed it past Wolfpack goalkeeper Tanner Yergens to make it 2-0.
"I knew the ball would go toward the back corner and I waited at the top of the box for it," Lopera said. "Stone is great at throw-ins. It's like a corner kick every time."
It was just extra practice for a team that took eight corner kicks on the night and outshot the Pack 19-7.
Caio Amaral scored off a pass from Juan Cano in the 66th minute for a 3-0 cushion and Stone finished the scoring off an assist by midfielder/field goal kicker Jonathan Ramirez in the 76th minute.
"We pushed and created chances early, but we didn't put it in the net," South Fort Myers coach Ryan Flory said. "The penalty took the momentum from us."
Seahawks goalkeeper Santi Villamil has been in goal for all 16 of their shutouts, having just a handful of chances Friday night.
"South played us as well as any team this season. They play like us," Nardiello said. "I told them to bring it back for Lee County and have a rematch."
The Seahawks will have to play the rest of this year's playoffs without senior striker Ronald Lind, who suffered a serious knee injury in Wednesday's semifinal victory over Cypress Lake.
District 4A-12: Gulf Coast beat Barron Collier 2-1 in the championship game Friday night.