After losing nearly their entire starting lineup from last year’s national championship team last offseason when a rules change forced top players to choose between high school and year-round club ball, many figured the Cypress Bay boys soccer program might just fade off into mediocrity.
So much for mediocre.
Tuesday night the Lightning hosted South Dade, Miami-Dade County’s official Cinderella program in a Region 4-5A final and dominated from start to finish, blitzing the outmanned Bucanneers 6-0.
Cypress Bay (17-2-4) now advances to its third consecutive state Final Four and will host Boca Raton in a Class 5A state semifinal Friday night at Cypress Bay High School.
The game will be a rematch of last year’s state semifinal when Cypress Bay traveled north to Boca and prevailed 3-1.
“We didn’t know much about [South Dade]so we just came out and tried to put as much pressure on them early and it worked out well,” said Cypress Bay coach John Ramos. “What these kids have done this season with everyone saying they would go nowhere with all of our lost players is a tribute to their determination and drive.”
But Ramos, his coaches and Cypress Bay players were playing for more than a regional title and to “prove everyone wrong” on Tuesday night. They also played with a heavy heart as well.
Just hours earlier they had gotten the news that CB’s longtime Physical Education department head and former coach Angela Kramer-White had died age 49 after a long bout with cancer, leaving behind six children.
“Angie meant everything to us and we came out here and dedicated this game to her tonight,” said sophomore forward Daniel Reese who enjoyed a three goal “hat trick” night for his team. “We were all close to her, especially coach Boomer [assistant coach Boomer Bray] because she was so loved and did so much for our program.”
The Lightning wasted no time establishing their dominance when they scored less than a minute into the game when Miguel Perez and Reese combined on a perfect corner kick/header combination to go up 1-0.
Things would get a lot worse very quickly for South Dade keeper Carlos Villegas as the Lightning would pepper him the entire first half with numerous shots.
Reese nailed down his second goal when he took an assist from Jake Fuhrman in the 16th minute and knocked it home to make it 2-0.
Just four minutes before halftime Daniel Gutierrez split the South Dade defense perfectly down the middle and beat Villegas one-on-one to make it 3-0 before Nicolas Guevara bicycle kicked one in 30 seconds before the half 4-0 allowing Ramos to freely substitute in the second half.
Reese completed his “hat trick” night when he knocked in his third goal in the game’s 74th before Humberto Diaz wrapped things up with a goal just one minute before the whistle blew.
Cypress Bay (14-2-4) which suffered major losses from last year’s national championship team when a rules change forced top players to choose between high school and year-round club ball
• Region 4-1A final — Hillel 2, Sagemont 0: The Class 1A boys’ soccer regional final between Hillel and Sagemont was preceded by the playing of the Israeli national anthem.
Then things got really different.
Hillel, a small Jewish school in North Miami Beach that has been around since 1972, beat Sagemont, 2-0 at FIU North, reaching the state semifinals for the first time in school history — in any sport.
The school’s fans reacted by storming the field, and the players — some of them shirtless by this point in the celebration – took a victory lap.
“This is surreal,” Hillel coach Ben Magidson said. “We’re a tiny school. Tomorrow, we are going to watch Hoosiers because I want them to get the small-community feel of what just happened.”
Hillel (18-1-1) advanced to Friday’s state semifinal against Melbourne Central Catholic at a site to be determined.
Meanwhile, Sagemont finished its season at 15-8-5 despite the fact that it had beaten Hillel, 2-1, earlier in the season. The teams also tied, 1-1.
“I think [Hillel] was superior in every way tonight,” Sagemont coach Jose Tamayo said. “They came out ready, and clearly we weren’t. Maybe they had more incentive because we had beaten them.
“The first half was totally theirs. The second we kind of evened it up a bit, but by then we were down 1-0, and they held [defenders] back somewhat. They controlled the game. They played our game against us.”
Hillel, which does not have a field on its campus – although one is being built for next season — practices every day at 6 a.m. because that is the only time available for them at the Jewish Community Center.
All that sacrifice paid off Tuesday as Hillel got goals by Julian Ribak and Albert Dichy.
On the key first first-half goal, Ribak took a corner kick from David Furmanski and headed the ball over the hands of goalie Reinaldo Marquez.
“We had some confusion there,” Tamayo said. “We had a defender on the post, but he came forward. [Hillel] intelligently shielded our goalie.”
This was the first playoff game of the season for Ribak, a freshman who has 17 goals, but had been out six weeks because of a red card.
Dichy’s goal, which came with 18 minutes left, came on a hard right-footed shot from 15 yards. Dichy, a junior, has scored in every round of the playoffs.
The shutout was turned in by freshman Alan Laundau, who suffered a nose bleed after a first-half collision but hung in and made some tough saves.
Hillel’s youth – there are no seniors on its roster – is even more apparent when compared to Sagemont. The Lions start seven seniors.
“It’s a great accomplishment to reach this far,” Tamayo said when asked to put Sagemont’s season in perspective. “But, today, [Hillel was] just better.”
• Region 3-5A final — Boca Raton 2, Taravella 1: Taravella’s remarkable resurgence under first-year veteran coach Mike Goodrich came to a halt in the Class 5A regional finals as the Trojans ended their deepest playoff run since winning state in 2001.
Boca Raton’s offensive prowess that produced 4.2 goals per match finally caught up with the Trojans as the host Bobcats scored both of their goals in the second half for a 2-1 comeback victory and denying Taravella a berth to the FHSAA Class 5A state Final Four.
Despite its limited shooting opportunities (two shots), Taravella managed to get a 1-0 halftime lead when Jose Campuzano lined a 30-yard drive from the left wing that deflected off a Boca Raton defender and froze goalkeeper Brian Kilgallon as the ball floated by him in the 18th minute.
The Trojans (19-4-2) were unable to hang on as the Bobcats outshot the Trojans 16-4 with Patrick Goodrich (the coach’s son) making seven saves; Kilgallon only had to make four saves for the match.
Boca Raton (25-2) advances to Friday’s state semifinal match against Cypress Bay in Melbourne.
“I knew coming into this that we were going to give up possession against a great team like this,” said Goodrich, the current Nova Southeastern University women’s coach who had successful stints at Cardinal Gibbons and Blanche Ely high schools in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“We knew we weren’t going to shoot on-level with them; we were playing low pressure (in the midfield while stacking the back field). I’m very proud of the season our boys had and the way they handled themselves tonight.”
Matthew Laux scored Boca Raton’s first goal eight minutes into the second half off a header off a long throw-in from Gio DiMauro; Gilmar Rodriguez scored the game-winner on a one-touch kick in front of the goal off a cross from right winger David Adejunmobi with 15 minutes remaining.
Boca Raton, meanwhile, frequently worked the ball into the Trojans zone through the first 40 minutes, but had limitedsuccess in quality scoring opportunities, taking eight shots (four on goal).
• Region 4-4A final — Fort Lauderdale 3, Stuart Martin County 2 (OT): After trailing 2-1 at halftime, the Flying L’s were triumphant after penalty kicks in overtime.
Vladimir Joseph scored the tying goal. Fort Lauderdale improved to 18-7-1