“If only.” That was the overriding theme for members of the Doral Academy boys’ soccer team as they sat on the field in dejection when the final whistle blew Saturday afternoon.
Numerous quality chances to score in the first half and early in the second half and take a lead had gone by the wayside.
The end result turned out to be, in a game much closer than the final score would indicate, a 4-0 loss to Orange Park Fleming Island in the Class 4A state championship game at Spec Martin Memorial Stadium.
“If only we could’ve gotten the lead, that would’ve made a big difference and changed everything for us,” said Doral captain and Barry University commit Felipe Ospina. “We tried from every single angle and just couldn’t find one and unfortunately once you start to get frustrated, that’s when you start to press and get out of position and that’s what happened to us.”
Ospina had two great chances in the first half, one-on-one with Fleming Island keeper Omar Zermeno, but Zermeno stoned him both times.
Making its first state final four appearance in any team sport, Doral (24-3-1) was seeking its second state title in any sport since the school opened 17 years ago — hoping to join the boys’ swimming team from 2015.
But, after spending the first 55 minutes of the game not being able to find the back of the net, the Firebirds saw Fleming Island (24-1-2) take the lead with 25:16 left when Marcus Murphy dropped a perfect centering pass in front of the net.
Doral keeper Bryan Lasseter came out too deep and when Mark Suhrer headed it goalward, Lasseter reached up and got a piece of the ball with his right hand but not enough as the ball trickled in.
The Firebirds thought they would get the equalizer two minutes later when forward Christian Ramirez went down hard inside the box following a violent collision with Zermeno. But, to the dismay of the Doral faithful, there was no whistle and play continued.
“In these types of games you’re only going to get so many chances, and unfortunately we had some in the first half and couldn’t finish it off and get the lead,” said Doral head coach Pam McDonald. “Then, after we fell behind, we get a clear penalty that didn’t get called which could have allowed us to tie it, but we got no whistle so we had to play on.”
It was at that point that shoulders started to slump on the Doral side.
With 12 minutes left and the Firebirds pressing offensively, they left themselves vulnerable defensively allowing Suhrer to knock another one in to make it 2-0.
After that, it was an avalanche as Fleming Island, which captured its second state title — the first coming in 2012 — scored twice more at the 10:21 and 7:40 mark to finish things off.
“Today obviously hurts, but I’m still proud of the boys for what they accomplished this season,” McDonald said.
“You never apologize for making it to the final game. But the thing I’m most proud of as a coach is that I have six or seven seniors who I’m sending on to college and that’s the most important thing in my mind.”