Their disappointment was obvious even as they walked off the field in the pouring rain.
But so was their pride in a historic accomplishment.
Hillel’s boys’ soccer team became the first in any sport in its school’s history to reach a state final.
But a hard-fought 1-0 loss to perennial state champion Tampa Prep on Thursday night at Melbourne High provided little solace.
“We’re all proud, but we’re not happy with this result,” Hillel sophomore defender Ben Vaisberg said. “It’s not enough until we get back here again and win it.”
Hillel (19-2-1) matched skill with Tampa Prep (25-1-1) until the 64th minute of the match.
Senior Shaddy Douidar angled a free kick that bent away from Hillel freshman goalkeeper Alan Landau for the lone goal of the match.
“The ball was coming and it was slippery with the rain,” Landau said. “The defender and forward looked like they deflected it, and I didn’t know how to react.”
Hillel was unable to find the equalizer despite putting some pressure on the goal in the final minutes of the match.
The Terrapins won their second state title and fourth in the past five seasons.
As for Hillel, a team with no seniors on the roster, it left the Tampa Prep players and even its fans buzzing about the team’s potential.
“They’re a good team and they’re young, which is great for them,” Tampa Prep senior Macsen Pritchard said.
The Hurricanes started playing soccer in the winter season five years ago. They won three district titles in four years.
This season, Hillel won 19 games, losing and tying only once to Weston Sagemont each time. The Hurricanes avenged those setbacks by beating Sagemont in the regional finals.
But Thursday, the difference against a Tampa Prep team that had 12 seniors came down to experience, size and speed.
“They were bigger, stronger and faster, but we feel our skill was on the level with them,” Vaisberg said. “We gave up one goal on a dead ball. We have to go back and look at our mistakes.”
Vaisberg and defenders Eric Dolman and Nathaniel Rub did a good job against Tampa Prep’s attackers, which mustered 12 shots to Hillel’s six. Julian Ribak, Hillel’s leading scorer, had three shots.
Twice in the opening minutes, the Terrapins nearly scored. But despite advancing at close range, each shot went wide. Landau finished with four saves.
Hillel, which scored 27 goals in six previous playoff matches, couldn’t muster any consistent scoring chances although it did create some traffic in front of goalkeeper Yousef Ghabour on a couple of corner kicks. But Ghabour had an answer for each threat.
“The first half you saw us pushing and not getting into our own style of play,” Hillel coach Ben Magidson said. “You give a team that’s been there so many chances they’re going to bury one and they did.”
Magidson shared the disappointment of Thursday’s loss but said the season could have just been the beginning for a program with the potential to become a consistent soccer power in Miami-Dade County.
“It makes me so proud when you see what this team did this year,” Magidson said. “The average age of our team is 16, so for our guys to battle like this is great. I don’t want to guarantee it will happen but these kids have a chance to get back here next year or even two or three times.”