Even though most of the names and faces have changed, the successful tradition of Cypress Bay boys soccer continued to roll along on Friday night.
Taking on a scrappy Haines City team that upset Jupiter and Boca Raton in the regional playoffs, the Lightning, on the strength of a single goal in the game’s 22nd minute and some great defense thereafter, hung on to defeat the Hornets 1-0 in a Class 5A state semifinal at Eastern Florida State College.
And with that, Cypress Bay (20-1-2), which won three consecutive state titles from 2011 to 2013 before stumbling in a regional final loss to Columbus last year, finds itself back in the 5A state championship game.
The Lightning will take on Winter Garden West Orange at 3 p.m. Saturday in what will be a rematch from two years ago, when Cypress Bay won 1-0.
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With only two players remaining from that championship team, it was only appropriate that those two, senior Nicholas Arboleda and junior Jake Fuhrman, combined for the lone goal of the match on Friday night.
Just after the first-half water break, Fuhrman got to a loose ball in the center of the field and threaded a perfect through ball to Arboleda, who split the two Hornets defenders and fired a shot into the top-right corner of the net with 17:48 left in the half.
“I was actually getting ready to rip a shot, but two defenders stepped in front of me,” Fuhrman said. “I saw Nicholas spotting behind the defense, so I just kind of popped it to him, and he did the rest.”
“We were dominating the first 20 minutes and had missed some opportunities, so we felt it was bound to happen,” Arboleda said. “My teammate Jake fed me a nice pass, and it was just me and the keeper, and I was just trying to send it second post and nailed it.”
Even though Cypress Bay never found the back of the net again, that was enough thanks to some lock-down air-tight defense by Lightning defenders David Reyes, Brian Waizer and sweeper Luis Perez.
It wasn’t until the game’s 61st minute when Haines City (19-6-1) recorded its first shot on goal.
But it darn near tied the game, as a Hornets corner kick was headed cleanly toward the right side of the net that Cypress Bay keeper Juan Calle was not going to get to.
But Stefano Delgado, who was protecting the near post, was there to clear the ball just before it crossed over the line.
“In the district final against St. Thomas I did the same thing, a diving header off the line, so it felt pretty good to keep my team in the game,” Delgado said. “The second I saw the ball I knew I just had to react and get it out of there.”
It turned out to be the one and only real chance for the Hornets to score.
“We just knew we had to lock it down in the second half and try and protect the lead,” Perez said.
State boys’ soccer finals
When: Through Saturday.
Where: Eastern Florida State College, 3865 N. Wickham Road, Melbourne.
Admission: $9 per session.
Friday’s results — Class 4A semifinals: Tallahassee Chiles 1, Wesley Chapel Wiregrass Ranch 0; Palm Beach Lakes 2, Naples Barron Collier 1; Class 5A semifinals: Winter Garden West Orange 3, Orlando Freedom 2 (8-7 PKs); Cypress Bay 1, Haines City 0; Class 3A final: Choctawatchee 1, Merritt Island 0 (OT).
Saturday’s schedule — Class 4A final: Tallahassee Chiles vs. Palm Beach Lakes, noon; Class 5A final: Winter Garden West Orange vs. Cypress Bay, 3.