Reagan’s boys know they need to play consistent soccer at a high level if they hope to make any kind of playoff run this season.
The Bison survived a major test Thursday and secured a piece of school history thanks once again to one of its youngest players.
Freshman Andres Gonzalez followed up a stellar semifinal with two clutch goals to help Reagan secure a 4-3 comeback overtime victory over Ferguson in the GMAC championship match at Tropical Park.
"I felt every emotion you can feel when I saw that ball go in," Gonzalez said. "This win helps us in the rankings and it gives us more confidence."
Gonzalez’s goal four minutes into the golden goal overtime period secured the Bison (19-3-2) its first GMAC championship. His goal in the final minute of the game saved Reagan from apparent defeat after Ferguson (16-2-4) had itself rallied from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead with under 10 minutes remaining.
"Both teams missed opportunities in the first half, but Andres came through for us again," Reagan assistant coach Marino Torrens, Jr. said. "This team is mentally strong and we’ve shown it coming from behind in a lot of games this year."
Torrens, who is affectionately nicknamed "Junior" on the team, coached the match while his father, Marino, was away attending a USA Soccer event in Baltimore.
"It’s his birthday today so this was the perfect gift for him," Torrens, Jr. said.
Reagan nearly handed Ferguson the tournament title less than 10 minutes before Gonzalez’s heroics.
Not long after Ferguson rallied to tie the match on a penalty kick goal by senior Holman Rios and a goal that came off a free kick by junior Piero Carreras, sophomore Robert Ore gave the Falcons the lead. Ore surged up field and stole a slow pass from Reagan’s goalkeeper and fired a shot into the back of the net to give Ferguson a 3-2 edge.
The Bison put together a scoring chance in the final minute and capitalized when Gonzalez, who had two goals in the semifinals against Miami Beach and has 17 for the season, scored off a perfect cross to send the match to overtime.
The match unexpectedly turned into a high-scoring shootout following a scoreless first half.
Reagan struck quickly with two goals in the first minute of the second half as junior Owen Green and senior Sergio Nivia.
Reagan, which has never won a regional playoff, made it back to that round last season for the first time in six years.
To get back, the Bison must survive the brutal District 16-4A tournament in which Reagan is a No. 3 seed behind Belen Jesuit (18-0-2) and Doral Academy (13-1-3), both of which are currently ranked in the top three in Miami-Dade County. Only the top two advance to regionals.
Reagan opens the tournament Tuesday against sixth-seeded Westland Hialeah at 7 p.m. at Traz Powell Stadium. If the Bison win, it would play Doral in an elimination game next Thursday in the semifinals.
The Bison are 0-2 against Belen and 0-1-1 against Doral.
"Belen and Doral are no joke, but the victories this team has achieved and the experience of playing a lot of good teams I think will make this team ready for what they will face next week," Torrens Jr. said.