Taravella first-year boys’ soccer coach Mike Goodrich knows his team grinds out games, hoping to achieve the “little things properly” because they can add up to wins and losses.
During the seventh minute of overtime, senior Darwin Espinal dribbled down the left side, turned the corner and beat a St. Thomas Aquinas defender before serving a cross to junior Alex Pacelko. The ball was deep and far enough that the goalkeeper couldn’t get to it.
When junior Alex Guiteras tried to clear it out, he instead tapped it in for an own goal as the Trojans beat the Raiders 2-1 in the Region 3-5A semifinal Saturday night at Douglas High.
“As an ex-defender I’ve scored my share of those too,” Taravella coach Mike Goodrich said. “I feel for him. Soccer sometimes you just don’t get the breaks, but it was a well-played match by both teams. When we do the little things – winning balls in the air, getting back defensively, communicating, making runs for each other – then we’re successful.”
The Trojans (19-3-2) will face Boca Raton Tuesday night in the regional final. Earlier in the week, Taravella won its first regional game since 2003, the same year it captured its first and only state title.
It didn’t take long for the Trojans to take a 1-0 lead — just two minutes into the game — on sophomore John Lewis’ deflection on a cross from senior Estaban Ochoa. Ochoa had intercepted an Aquinas defender’s pass inside the box intended for a teammate out wide.
St. Thomas Aquinas (15-3-3) evened it 10 minutes later when a Taravella defender failed to clear a cross from junior Matheus Ale inside the box. Freshman Travis Brumfield capitalized by stealing the ball and scoring..
Both goalkeepers kept the game tied with diving saves. The teams combined for 14 shots on goal by halftime, yet neither could punch in the go-ahead goal despite several chances during a scoreless second half.
“It feels great,” junior Patrick Goodrich said. “At Taravella we haven’t had that winning mentality. This year we finally have it and the talent to go far with this. We believe we can go far.”
• Region 4-4A semifinal – Fort Lauderdale 4, American 3 (OT): Usually a two-goal deficit in soccer with three minutes to go in a regional playoff game spells one thing — elimination.
But nobody bothered to tell the Fort Lauderdale boys’ soccer team. Hosting American in a Region 4-4A semifinal, the Flying L’s scored twice in the last three minutes to tie the game, and then won it in the ninth minute of the first overtime.
The game-winner came when Oscar Salas fired a deep throw-in in front of the American net and Ralph Joseph caught it flush with his head and into the top left corner of the net to give his team a dramatic 4-3 victory.
Fort Lauderdale (17-7-1), already in its first-ever regional semifinal, now moves on to the regional final where the L’s will either host Sebastian River on Tuesday afternoon at their school or travel to Stuart to take on Martin County.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a bigger goal in my life,” said Joseph, a senior and team’s leading scorer (24 goals) in the midst of being mobbed by his jubilant teammates. “Oscar [Salas] made a great throw-in and I saw I might be able to get a clean head on it and aimed top left. What a feeling. What a miracle.”
The Patriots scored twice in the first 12 minutes of the second half on goals by Osmar Sequeira and Kevin Ramos to grab a 2-1 lead and then seemingly iced it in the 59th minute on a Diego Arcon goal.
Just three minutes away from the whistle blowing the end of their season, the L’s cut the lead to one. Vladimyr Joseph trickled a loose ball in front of the net in. Then, with less than a minute left, Mycholnick Emile got to a ball in the corner just before it went out of bounds and centered it over the American keeper’s head where Benjie Orelien was waiting for it and headed it in tying the game.
“I don’t know, maybe destiny is in our corner or something but this is an amazing run that we don’t want to end,” said Fort Lauderdale coach Bentio Clerveaux. “It’s a tribute to our kids that they kept playing hard and fighting even though things appeared to be hopeless.”
“Just inexplicable what happened, but give [Ft. Lauderdale] the credit they deserve,” said stunned American coach Richy Pelaez as he walked to the bus. “They kept on fighting and battling. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before and it’s a tough one to swallow but we’ll move on.”
• Region 4-5A semifinal – Cypress Bay 1, West Broward 0: It was 76 frustrating minutes of soccer for the two-time defending state champion Cypress Bay boys’ soccer team. Hosting West Broward in a Region 4-5A semifinal, a rematch of last week’s district final, the Lightning dominated all night long and did everything but score.
Finally, just three-and-a-half minutes away from the game going into overtime as last week’s district final did, Cypress Bay’s Humberto Diaz headed in a perfect corner kick from Miguel Perez into the top left corner of the net to give the Lightning the 1-0 win and move them into Tuesday’s regional final where they will host South Dade.
“Coach [John Ramos] just kept yelling to us to be patient and that it will come and finally it did,” said Diaz, who watched his teammates outshoot West Broward 17-2 and hit the post or crossbar three times along the way. “Miguel [Perez] sent me a great corner and I knew I was in between two defenders so knew I would get a clean look at it.”
“I just kept yelling the same thing to them, ‘It’s going to come, it’s going to come,’ ” said Ramos, who saw his team improve to 16-2-4. “I could sense they were frustrated but felt it was just a matter of time before we finally popped one in and fortunately Miguel and Humberto came through with a great goal.”
The Bobcats, who won their first-ever regional playoff game three days earlier against Miami Beach, finished 12-8-3.
• Region 4-3A Semifinal – American Heritage 3, Pembroke Pines Charter 0: Unlike the first two matches this season between American Heritage and Pembroke Pines Charter, which were both decided by a one-goal margin, American Heritage controlled the pace for most of the match as it defeated the Jaguars in the region 4-3A semifinal 3-0 in Plantation.
Julian Franco scored two goals for American Heritage (22-3-2). The Patriots will face Merritt Island in the regional final.
“We were hungry,” Patriots coach Richard Jobson said. “My boys just wanted it a little bit more.”
American Heritage broke through in the 29th minute on a Chris Mealer follow-up shot that the Jaguars could not clear out of the box to take a 1-0 lead.
The Patriots tacked on their second goal in the 48th minute. On a Jamar Campion-Hinds run on right wing, he crossed a pass into the box, which Franco knocked into an empty net to give the Patriots a 2-0 lead.
The few chances that Pines Charter (19-6-0) had on goal, the Patriots defense was able to recover and clear the ball out of its half of the field.
Franco added his second goal in the 79th minute to complete the scoring for the Patriots.
• Region 4-2A semifinal – Delray American Heritage 1, North Broward Prep 0: A sloppy first half, followed by an unexpected strategy from its opponent turned out to be North Broward Prep’s downfall as it dropped its third out of four matches this season against visiting American Heritage-Delray.
The Eagles were unable to break down Heritage’s defensive shell in the second half and ended its season with a 1-0 defeat against its district rival.
Heritage will face Gulliver in the regional semifinal Tuesday.
The lone score came in the 18th minute when the Stallions’ Austin Mills hit a 15-yard shot near the left pole off Greg Joseph’s pass from the middle.
The Stallions (19-3-2) managed to hold on while frustrating North Broward Prep (19-7) by placing six defenders in the backfield throughout the last 40 minutes of the game.
“I put three forwards (Josh Creighton, Jason Shortbridge, and Diego Montes) for most of the half,” coach Diego Cardona said. “And yes, it was frustrating, but sometimes soccer is not a logical game.”
“We didn’t play as well in the first half when we had our chances.” Eagles junior playmaker Mateo Correa said. “I thought maybe we were nervous, but in the second half we attacked better, but got frustrated with the way they stacked the back[field].”
In a match that saw plenty of sloppiness and physical play (seven yellow cards), the opportunities were sporadic with Heritage outshooting the Eagles 11-7
After the goal, the rest of the half was played with both teams struggling to work the ball cleanly past the midfield. Both teams had four shots on goal through the first 40 minutes of play.
• Region 4-1A semifinal – Sagemont 3, Posnack 0: Two late goals added to the Lions’ 1-0 lead to put the game out of reach. Sagemont advances to regional finals where it will meet Hillel.
• District 14-3A final – Late Friday – Coral Springs Christian 47, Sagemont 41 – CSChr. (20-5): Bell 2, Williams 12, Fuller 8, White 10, Blake 15. SAG (18-8): Cole 3, Black 8, Rucker 2, Griffin 6, Correa 7, Marshall 15.
Late Friday – Pace 85, Chaminade 80 – MP: Thomas 6, Justinine 8, Fisher 26, Wilson 3, Ogugua 1, Duarte 29, Alvarez 7, Saintvil 2. Rebounds: Fisher 11. Assists: Justinine 6. Steals: Duarte 7.