FORT MYERS — The Berkeley Prep boys soccer team got the style of game it wanted in Friday’s Class 2A-Region 3 final and it resulted in the Buccaneers’ third consecutive trip to the Final Four.
Sophomore Lance Esposito’s goal in the 73rd minute, off a 50-plus yard indirect kick by senior Austin Iglehart, proved to be the only tally in a 1-0 victory over the previously unbeaten Vikings.
“We’ve played these kind of close games all season long,” said Berkeley Prep coach Tim Cooper. “I think that really helped up stay comfortable tonight.”
The Buccaneers (10-10-5) controlled the action early, with four quality shots in the game’s first 20 minutes, but couldn’t find the net. Bishop Verot (18-1-3), which entered the game having allowed just nine goals all season, turned up the heat in the final 10 minutes of the first half.
► The Vikings had their best chance at getting on the scoreboard in the 35th minute, but Berkeley Prep senior goalkeeper Ben Milliken’s diving stop on a header by Bishop Verot sophomore Cullen Duquette kept the game scoreless.The Buccaneers resulted their offensive dominance in the second half and finally cashed in when Esposito leaped to head Iglehart’s long boot into the lower right corner of the net. ◄ “I’m really proud of these guys; they deserve it,” Cooper said.
– Dan DeLuca
3A-2: Sunlake headed back to state semis
LAND O’ LAKES — Sunlake celebrated — and celebrated often.
Not only did the Seahawks (29-1-1) notch a 3-1 win against Palm Coast Matanzas (18-4-5) in the Class 3A-Region 2 final to secure its second straight state tournament berth, but also leading scorer Remi Pimm set a Pasco County single-season scoring record.
Pimm, a sophomore, has 64 goals, which eclipses former Ridgewood great Melissa Wells’ 63 from 1991.
“There’s still work to be done,” said Pimm, who is five goals away from tying the state scoring record in his first season at Sunlake. “This team got to the semis last season, so we want and do better than that this time around.”
After a scoreless first half that Sunlake controlled, Cobi Shirmo broke the tie in the 48th minute, hitting a superb shot on a leave by Aaron Aucoin.
“It’s an amazing feeling to get back to the state tournament two years in a row,” said Shirmo, who has 24 goals this season. “Once we get going with goals, its hard to stop us.”
Pimm scored the record-breaker in the 56th minute after taking a Connor Spencer throw in off a header. It was Spencer’s county-best 42nd assist this season. Aucoin would extend the lead in the 63rd minute on a assist from Pimm.
– ◄ Mike Camunas
5A-2: East Lake gets past Newsome
LITHIA — East Lake defender Max Guy said there was more than a twinge of nerves as Newsome lined up for a penalty kick in the 76th minute of the Class 5A-Region 2 final with the Eagles holding a one-goal lead.
Guy, defensive captain Daniel Mahler and the rest of East Lake defense swarmed into the box after the penalty kick clanged off the crossbar and held off a final flurry from the Wolves, earning a trip to the state final four with a 1-0 win.
“There was a fear there (on the penalty kick), we’ve made some mistakes in the last few games,” Guy said. “But this defense has played for each other all season and we did everything we could tonight to make sure not to let anything get in.”
East Lake (21-3-1) defenders held Newsome (17-6-1) without a shot on goal as the back line stymied every attack. Guy and Eagles coach Alex Stenson both said the defense learned from their team’s last two matches against Steinbrenner, where allowing late goals cost them a district title and forced them to overtime in the region semifinal win.
“They were brilliant tonight, thank God,” Stenson said of the defense. “We panicked against Steinbrenner, but they kept calm tonight – Max and Daniel were just brilliant.” The Wolves defense, solid as well, kept the Eagles biggest threat Josh Page at bay, but a 38th minute cross from Nate Himes, found an uncovered Pierre Goris who flicked on the decider earning East Lake its first final four berth since 1998. ◄
– Jarrett Guthrie
4A-2: Mitchell run ends at Melbourne
MELBOURNE — If Mitchell coach Oscar Ubillus could imagine a team that was essentially kryptonite to this year’s Mustangs, it would look a lot like the one fielded by Melbourne. The Bulldogs’ size and physicality proved too much as Melbourne defeated Mitchell 3-0 in the Class 4A-Region 2 final.
“If I had to pick a team that can check off everything that is a worst matchup for us, this is it,” Ubillus said. “They were great in the air and that’s probably our weakest point. That was a huge difference, but obviously they’re a good team. They knew how to take us out of our game.”
Melbourne (22-1-1) jumped on Mitchell early when Reid Ferguson headed in an assist from Micah Smoak during the fifth minute. The Mustangs continued to struggle winning 50-50 balls and the Bulldogs just kept on applying near-constant pressure.
“We were lucky to be down 1-0 at halftime,” Ubillus said of Mitchell’s ability to keep Melbourne from running away. “We were a little shell-shocked but we played a lot better in the second half. We just ran up against a team that was bigger, stronger, faster.” ◄ ► Owen Tworkowski put Melbourne up 2-0 four minutes into the second half and Jamie Carlson iced the game in the 76th. ◄
– Eric Horchy, Suncoast News
3A-3: Merritt Island blanks Jesuit
MERRITT ISLAND — Michael Seng scored two of his team’s three goals as Merritt Island got past Jesuit 3-0 to advance to the Class 3A state boys soccer semifinals for the second consecutive year.
Merritt Island wasted little time establishing itself in Jesuit’s end of the field, and the Mustangs struck quickly thanks to a header by Jake Bennett off a cross from John Schneider that put them up 1-0 a little less than five minutes into the contest. Seng added another score before the half as his strike, off a feedback from Jackson Barnes on a breakaway, gave the Mustangs a 2-0 advantage with just more than 23 minutes left in the half.
Florida Today ► The lead remained at that point until just over midway through the second half, when Seng hit a ball off a feed from Ian Carey that virtually cemented Merritt Island’s place in the state semifinals. ◄
1A-2: CDS falls short
TAMPA — Carrollwood Day erased a three-goal deficit in the final 15 minutes of regulation, but came up 29 seconds short of forcing penalty kicks, falling 4-3 to Bradenton St. Stephen’s in a dramatic Class 1A-Region 2 final.
St. Stephen’s led 2-0 at the half on goals by Jeremy Jackman and Matthew Jones. An own goal by CDS made it 3-0, setting the stage for a Patriots’ comeback. After a goal with 15 minutes left cut the advantage to two, CDS forward Miguel Ridruejo slotted home a penalty kick with 3 minutes left to cut the deficit to 3-2. A goal by Austin Ham with 1:13 left forced overtime.
After a scoreless first OT, the match appeared to be headed to penalty kicks before Boyd scored the game-winner on an assist from Alex Virgilio.
“It was a roller coaster,” Patriots coach Jim Harte said. “There’s nothing else to say. The guys gave everything. I think the character of our team is really outstanding.”
– Michael Manganello