MELBOURNE — They weren’t supposed to be there.
Then, Berkeley Prep did something it wasn’t supposed to do, either.
Down 4-0 to Orlando Bishop Moore with just 20 minutes remaining in the Class 2A boys soccer state semifinals at Eastern Florida State College, the Buccaneers once again proved everyone wrong.
Appearing in its third straight state semifinal, Berkeley Prep mounted a comeback, scoring three unanswered goals in 11 minutes. However, the rally was too little, too late and the Buccaneers lost 5-3 in a game many couldn’t believe Berkeley (10-11-5) was in, let alone hanging with the Hornets (26-4-1).
“A couple of weeks ago (we’re) the fourth seed going into our district tournament and then get here and only lose by two — we’ve had a great season,” Berkeley coach Tim Cooper said. “I knew we had great players and none of us really thought we’d be here — other teams looking at our record didn’t think we’d be here, so it was exciting to the end.”
“We spotted them two goals,” Cooper added. “I think you saw the real Berkeley in the last 30 minutes, but I also told them we’re not going out like this.”
Already waiting an extra day to play this semifinal after the game was postponed Wednesday evening because of inclement weather, Berkeley came out flat in the remaining 18 minutes in the first half and went into halftime down 2-0.
“I feel like if we would have come out into this game the way we played at the end that we’d be feeling a lot better right now,” future Wake Forest kicker Austin Iglehart said. “It took us until it was too late to turn it on.”
Berkeley’s string of goals started in the 60th minute when Lance Esposito scored on a Georgios Karides assist, then five minutes later Daley Donigan headed in a free kick from Iglehart. Andrew Kenny scored six minutes later again off an Iglehart assist, and the Buccaneers put in a fourth goal that was waved off after it fouled Bishop’s keeper.
“The ref said we hit the keeper,” Iglehart said. “That’s the call we were told.”
“I’m really proud of them because we almost tied it up on a goal that was disallowed,” Cooper added. “We weren’t supposed to be here, but we made the most of it.”