Cypress Bay’s run of three consecutive state titles is over — and the team that dethroned the boys’ soccer kings is one that has never done anything even close to this big in this sport.
Eddie Diaz, who earlier had been gouged in the eye and had a ball blast off his groin area, inflicted the biggest pain of all to Cypress Bay, scoring two minutes into overtime to give visiting Columbus a 2-1 win Friday night in a Class 5A regional final.
It was Columbus’ third consecutive overtime playoff win.
Columbus (20-4-5), which only had one regional win in school history before this season, will travel to Melbourne for next Friday’s Class 5A state semifinals.
“It’s crazy — it’s the first time we’ve ever done this,” Diaz said. “I popped a blood vessel in my eye, but I’m good. It’s part of the game.”
Diaz, a senior, joined the Columbus team four years ago — which is the same time Michael Stewart took over as coach. Before that, Columbus had endured four coaches in four years.
Stewart brought stability, and the results were never more evident than Friday night as Columbus dominated play for most of the match.
Columbus stunned Cypress Bay (17-2-3) by taking a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute. Junior Joseph Tolgyesi, a tall, lefty kicker, booted a high free kick that was bending toward the left corner of the net. Cypress Bay sophomore goalie Juan Calle reached up and got his hands on the ball, but he gave up a juicy rebound, and Columbus’ Danny Del Rio booted in the opening goal.
Tolgyesi, who kicks for Columbus’ football team, got the assist.
“I’ve made a 47-yard field goal in football,” he said, “but this kick meant more.”
Columbus maintained its lead and seemed to have the game wrapped up, but Cypress Bay scored with 45 seconds left in regulation when Alex Bailey centered the ball to fellow senior Nicolas DeMujica, who got the tying goal.
If anyone thought that Cypress Bay was bored with winning and did not want this game badly, that notion was dispelled by the team’s sideline celebration. In fact, Calle raced from his spot in goal to leap into the arms of one of his teammates.
Columbus, meanwhile, had to be deflated, if only for a moment.
“It’s tough to get scored on in the final minute,” Stewart said. “But my team is built to play to the end, and they love going to overtime.”
Indeed, Columbus had knocked off Varela 3-2 on a golden goal by freshman David Gunter and did the same to Sunset 2-1 on junior Fabio Casteneda’s OT winner.
Diaz was the hero Friday, but senior Bryan Alvarez made a stellar sliding save late in the game, and the entire defense played well in front of him.
“It’s great to see this win in everybody’s face after all these years of Columbus not having wins,” Del Rio said. “We knew since day one this was possible. I saw it coming.”
• Region 4-4A — Delray Beach Atlantic 4, Fort Lauderdale 1: After a scoreless first half, the flood gates opened and the fireworks began at Delray Beach Atlantic.
But it was the home team that made the adjustments necessary to punch its ticket to Melbourne next week and a berth in the state semifinal as Atlantic ended Fort Lauderdale’s season.
After Fort Lauderdale’s Fredlin Mompremier scored on a goal from about 20 yards out for a 1-0 lead in the 52nd minute, mistakes began to plague the Flying Ls.
Fort Lauderdale (20-2-3) had a chance to make it 2-0 a few minutes later on a two-on-none break, but the shot was missed badly.
Atlantic (15-3-2) countered quickly down the field and tied the game in the 60th minute on a goal by Jordan Paul.
Less than a minute later a free kick from out wide was placed perfectly to the head of Fritz Alexandre who drilled it in for a 2-1 Atlantic lead.
The Flying Ls had chances though. A free kick attempt by Mompremier from just outside the box was saved on a great play by an Atlantic defender. Shortly after that, Atlantic put the game away in “want it more” play.
Pierre Paul won a 50/50 ball, took it from the Fort Lauderdald defender, turned on the goal and beat Lucas Fancello for a 3-1 lead in the 75th minute.
“I’ve told them all season don’t hesitate and he hesitated,” Fort Lauderdale coach Andre Reynolds said.
Mompremier had another free kick attempt, but a sensational save by Nicholas Cortese kept it at 3-1.
Atlantic coach Mike Sicard made a switch in strategy that made a difference especially after Fort Lauderdale scored.
“We went with three defenders and two strikers and it worked,” Sicard said. “We were able to put a lot of pressure on them.”
Samuel Joseph finished the scoring in extra time for the final score.
“I am very proud of my guys. We lost only twice this year. They will learn from this. We had a magnificent season,” Reynolds said.
• Region 4-2A — Gulliver 2, American Heritage-Delray 0: The final came to a close with the Raiders on top despite a relentless effort by Heritage’s goalkeeper Daniel Ragoo, who accumulated 11 saves while holding the score to 0-0 throughout most of the game.
The Raiders (17-1-1) found the goal twice after making 31 attempts on the Stallions (20-2-1).
Throughout the first half of the game the Gulliver boys maintained control of the ball, but the first goal didn’t come until the last nine minutes of play by Lou Diego.
“I didn’t see coming,” Diego said. “That was all I wanted to do since the game started. The goalkeeper was better than we thought, I just put it low and got lucky.”
Then with less than one minute left Jesus Bolivar sealed the game with the final goal.
“Tough battle, we ran up against a buzz-saw today,” Heritage-Delray coach Alvin James said. “They were the saw and we were the tree. My goalie did a wonderful job keeping them at bay for most of the game. It was just a matter of time until they got one.”
The Gulliver boys, the 2012-13 state runner-ups, will head into the state tournament looking to better their standing from last year and win it all.
COREY W. CAMPBELL