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.”