Some day, when he’s a much older man perhaps with grandchildren, Cypress Bay goalkeeper Juan Calle will sit them down on his lap and tell them all about the day grandpa saved the day for his soccer team.
But during the immediate aftermath of Saturday afternoon’s dramatic overtime penalty-kick shootout between his Lightning team and Winter Garden West Orange, Calle was content to just celebrate and enjoy being mobbed by his teammates.
That happened after he made two clutch saves in the shootout that paved the way for Cypress Bay’s 2-1 (4-1 PKs) victory over West Orange in the Class 5A state championship game at Eastern Florida State College.
And, following a one-year hiatus after winning three consecutive state titles from 2011 to 2013, Cypress Bay, even with a virtually brand new team from two years ago, returned to the top of the boys’ soccer world.
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After Cypress Bay’s Luis Perez led off the shootout round by knocking one past West Orange keeper Alec Holland, Calle stopped Affonso Temporal’s shot to put his team up 1-0 after the first set.
After both teams scored in the second and Cypress Bay’s Jake Fuhrman hit the third attempt to make it 3-1, Calle dove to his left and stopped Chris Nieto’s shot. That left if up to Stefano Delgado to deliver the state championship game winner, which he drilled into the top-left corner of the net, prompting Lightning players to storm the field in celebration.
“As I was going to PKs, I was thinking about last year when we lost to Columubus [regional final] on a golden goal and I just wanted to redeem myself,” said Calle, a junior who will be back next year. “What was big was that [on Friday], they went to PKs [West Orange’s 8-7 penalty-kicks semifinal win over Orlando Freedom] and we came out and took notes so I went to school on what their players did. The only one that changed it up was their goalie [Holland] and he’s the one that scored on me. The other two saves, they went exactly where they went [Friday].”
Said Cypress Bay coach Colin Ilgner: “I always like to look at the other team if I can. [On Friday], when I was warming up the kids, I had our team manager Andy Fuhrman [father of junior Jake Fuhrman] go over there and watch both teams shoot the PKs and take notes. Got everything to a T and Juan had a very good idea where they were going.”
Calle never would have had the chance to be the hero had it not been for a huge equalizing goal by the Lightning (21-1-2).
After putting itself in a 1-0 hole by giving up a West Orange goal just 2:41 before halftime, Cypress Bay dug hard to force the action in the second half.
And it finally paid off in the game’s 54th minute. That’s when forward Franco Massacessi put a brilliant move on two West Orange defenders and knifed a perfect through-ball to David Reyes, who found himself one-on-one with Holland and knocked it into the bottom-left corner of the net, tying the game at 1 with 25:14 left.
“Coach had just put me in as center-attacking mid and once he did that, I knew I had to do something,” Reyes said. “It just so happened that Franco took on one player, got past him, took on two, got past him and got me a perfect through-ball. Once I saw it was me and the keeper, I looked at second post to see if that was my better option, but when I saw him jerk the other way, I just tapped it in nice and slowly to the left post and I couldn’t ask for more.”
After the first 37 minutes of the game, with each team recording just one shot on goal, West Orange took the lead when Paul Mansingh popped a high ball into the air towards the goal from 30 yards out. Calle came out of the net to try and catch the high ball, but West Orange forward Felipe Silva was also there. The two went up for it but Silva managed to get his head on it first and popped it over Calle’s head and the ball trickled into the goal.
“I was surprisingly relaxed when I was walking up to the ball,” Delgado said of his game- and championship-clinching shot. “I just asked the referee, ‘So if this goes in, we win?’ And I just knew right then and there that I was going to put it away.”
The Warriors (14-2-4) were hoping to avenge a 1-0 loss to Cypress Bay in a rematch from the state title game two years ago and achieve only the second state championship in the history of the school in any sport, matching a girls’ softball title in 1994.
“At the beginning of the season, nobody thought they could do it and I don’t even think the kids thought they could do it,” Ilgner said. “But I told them, hard work, dedication, three hours every afternoon, rain, cold, it didn’t matter. Preparation is what prepares you for moments like [Saturday], and I believe it happened because of the work that they put in.”