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 Tuesday night 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 [the movie] 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.
Hillel does not have a field on its campus, although one is being built for next season. The kids practice every day at 6 a.m. because that is the only time slot available for them at the Jewish Community Center.
All that sacrifice paid off on Tuesday as the Hillel Hurricanes stormed past Sagemont (15-8-5) on goals by Julian Ribak and Albert Dichy.
Sagemont had provided the only blemishes on Hillel’s record this season, drawing 1-1 and winning 2-1 in two previous meetings. But on Tuesday, Ribak got Hillel off to a good start, taking a corner kick from David Furmanski and heading the ball over the hands of goalie Reinaldo Marquez.
This was the first playoff game of the season for Ribak, a freshman who has 17 goals but had been out six weeks due to 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.
“Some of our kids don’t even have driver’s licenses yet,” Magidson said.
Magidson, who played Division II soccer in Pennsylvania after competing locally at Gulliver Prep, is in his fourth season at Hillel, and the Hurricanes have won three district titles under his watch.
But what’s happening now is special, he said.
“This is the best team we’ve ever had,” Magidson said.
“Sagemont was bigger and stronger than us. But we have skills. I knew that if we kept the ball on the ground … we dominated them. We could have put up four or five goals.’’
• Region 4-5A final — Cypress Bay 6, South Dade 0: Some wondered when the clock might strike midnight for the South Dade boys’ soccer team. As it turned out, it wasn’t even midnight. More like 8:40 p.m. on Tuesday night when the whistle blew, ending the Bucanneers’ season and an amazing and unexpected run through the regional playoffs.
Taking on two-time defending state champion Cypress Bay at Cypress Bay High School in a Region 4-5A final, the Bucs gave up a goal in the first 30 seconds and were never a factor as the Lightning cruised to an easy victory and a berth in Friday night’s 5A state semifinal, where they will host Boca Raton.
South Dade, which finished as the No. 4 seed in its own district and was competing in the regional playoffs for the first time since 1999, finished 9-8-2.
“I guess that’s the end of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride,” said South Dade coach Ed Callahan, talking like a coach who was hardly upset and knew midnight might come at some point.
“We ran into an absolute buzz saw out there tonight in Cypress Bay. They popped that quick goal on us in the first minute, and we just were never a factor after that. What an unbelievable run by our program, and I can’t be more proud of those kids getting on that bus over there. They put South Dade soccer on the map and nobody will look at us anymore thinking they’ve got an automatic win.”
The Lightning wasted absolutely no time establishing its dominance when it scored less than a minute into the game when Miguel Perez and Daniel 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, making it 4-0 and allowing Cypress Bay coaches to freely substitute in the second half.
“That first goal really hurt us and really kind of took us out of our game,” said South Dade senior captain Humberto Blanco. “But that’s OK. I’m proud of my teammates as we made history this year. I’m really proud and honored to have been a part of this great run and hopefully people will take South Dade soccer more seriously from now on.”
Cypress Bay (14-2-4) 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