This year’s GMAC boys’ soccer championship match might give the impression someone hit the rewind button.
Varela and Sunset, the premier rivalry in Miami-Dade County soccer not long ago, are picking up their intensity.
The schools, which won a combined three national championships and four state titles from 2004 to 2008, each secured 1-0 victories Tuesday night at Milander Park in the GMAC semifinals.
Varela (11-4-2) opened the night with a win over defending GMAC champion Ferguson (11-4-4). Sunset (15-1-4) followed suit with a victory over North Miami (15-5-1) in the other semifinal.
Next, the two will square off for the county title Thursday night at 7 at Milander. Sunset leads the season series 1-0-1.
It will be the first time Sunset and Varela have played for the GMAC title since 2007 when the Vipers won their lone county championship.
Varela and Sunset have not played in the GMAC final since.
“It’s like going back in time,” said Sunset senior Jonathan Ochoa, a four-year starter. “Just like [Varela], we’re trying to bring our history back.”
Varela advanced to the final with a hard-fought defensive effort that was highlighted by Juan Grimaldo’s eighth shutout. Junior forward Alexander Tosta kicked home a rebound off a deflected shot in the 47th minute for the Vipers’ lone goal.
Even after 2008 — its last state title season — Varela continued to reign among Miami-Dade’s best, advancing to the state final four in 2009 and 2011.
But last season, the Vipers struggled to a 5-7-2 record, missing the regional playoffs for the first time since 2002.
Tosta is one of several juniors, including midfielders Daniel Foen, Christian Santillan (game-winning assist Wednesday) and Kevin Pizzolo, who has helped during a turnaround season.
“We’re playing much better and it’s due to the kids supporting each other on the field,” Varela first-year coach Juan Monge said. “If one makes a mistake, another is there to fix it.”
Sunset, on the other hand, has not made the regional playoffs since 2008. The following two seasons, the Knights won a combined five matches. Last season, Sunset won 10 but was eliminated in the district playoffs.
Junior Eddy Pineiro scored the lone goal Tuesday following a turnover near North Miami’s goal. Sophomore Christian Armendariz recorded his 10th shutout.
“It’s good to see the resurgence of both schools after the disappointment of the past couple of years,” Myers said. “To see both of us prevail as the top two teams in the GMAC again is a great story.”
MORE BOYS’ SOCCER
• LaSalle 1, Belen 1: Mateo Brugo goal. Alvaro Morales assist. LAS 8-3-2.
American secured the top-seed in District 13-8A with a 53-52 win against defending Class 8A state champion Hialeah Gardens at home Tuesday night.
It was the Patriots’ second one-point win this season against the Gladiators (14-5). American (15-3) was led by Jonathan Spicer’s 17 points.
HG (14-5): Scilingo 1, Sanchez 5, Huertas 9, Gonzalez 14, Simoza 16, Leonardo 7. AME (15-3): Foster 11, Spicer 17, Andrews 8, Escobar 9, Liz 10. Halftime: AME 27-23. Three-pointers: Sanchez, Huertas, Foster, Escobar, Andrews. Rebounds: Liz 11. Assists: Andrews 3, Foster 3. Fouled out: Huertas.