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.