Looking to repeat as state champions, the Gulliver Prep boys soccer team did exactly what you’re supposed to do when taking on an inferior opponent. Score early and often and take them right out of the game.
Such was the case for the Raiders on Wednesday night when they wasted little time flexing their superiority over an outsized and outgunned LaBelle team, scoring five first half goals and cruising to an 8-0 victory in a Class 2A state semifinal at Eastern Florida State College.
The match came to an early finish when freshman Truman Gelnovatch scored a goal with 8:10 left, ending the game on the eight-goal mercy rule.
And with that, Gulliver (18-2) is in its third consecutive state championship game, where the Raiders will be looking to repeat as state champs when they take on a familiar foe, Jacksonville Bolles, at 6 p.m. Thursday.
The game will be a rematch from the title game two years ago when Bolles won 1-0. Gulliver will be looking for its sixth state title and second back-to-back championships since 1999-2000.
Bolles (20-7-1) knocked off Melbourne West Shore on penalty kicks in its state semifinal.
“The game plan from the beginning was to try and jump on them early,” said Gulliver coach Matias Asorey, whose team has now outscored its last four playoff opponents play by a combined 23-2. “Even though it took us a little longer than expected, once we got that second goal, things really started to get easier for us as we started spreading them out, and once we popped the third one in, we cruised from there.”
Despite putting major heat on LaBelle goalkeeper Josue Orduna from the opening whistle, it took the Raiders 13 minutes to score their first goal, coming when the Cowboys (23-5-1) fouled Adriano Castro in the box. Castro rifled the ensuing penalty kick into the bottom left corner of the net.
Four minutes later it was 2-0 when Paul Bouaziz took a perfect pass down low from Andy Alvarez and popped it home.
Just over 17 minutes before halftime, Alvarez was in on the assist again when he fed Alberto Kike Poleo a perfect through ball and Kike Poleo beat a pair of defenders with two great moves to score. Nine minutes later, the favor was returned when Kike Poleo fed one to Alvarez down the left side where he knocked another past a beleaguered Orduna for a 4-0 lead.
“We really didn’t know too much about this team going in so we just wanted to do what we know how to do, come out strong, put the ball in the net and not let them think they have a chance,” Alvarez said. “We’re playing as well as we’ve played all year right now so that’s big and now we need one more.”
What: Boys’ soccer.
When: Through Saturday.
Where: Eastern Florida State College, 3865 N. Wickham Road, Melbourne.
Admission: $9 per session.
Wednesday’s results – Class 1A semifinals: Maitland Orangewood Christian 4, Bradenton St. Stephen’s 0; Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic 2, Miami SLAM Academy 0; Class 2A semifinals: Jacksonville Bolles 1, Melbourne West Shore 0; Miami Gulliver 8, LaBelle 0.
Thursday’s schedule – Class 3A semifinals: Land O’Lakes Sunlake vs. Fort Walton Beach Choctawhatchee, 10 a.m.; Immokalee vs. Merritt Island, 12:30; Class 1A final: Orangewood vs. Santa Fe, 3; Class 2A final: Bolles vs. Gulliver, 6.
Friday’s schedule – Class 4A semifinals: Tallahassee Chiles vs. Wesley Chapel Wiregrass Ranch, 10 a.m.; Naples Barron Collier vs. Palm Beach Lakes, 12:30; Class 5A semifinals: Orlando Freedom vs. Winter Garden West Orange, 3; Cypress Bay vs. Haines City, 5:30; Class 3A final: 8.
Saturday’s schedule – Class 4A final: noon; Class 5A final: 3.