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.