High School Sports

La Salle advances to first state semifinal with another shootout win

La Salle midfielder Giovani Ventura (13) and midfielder Marco Raucci (21) reacts after defeating North Broward in penalty shoot-out of the boys soccer playoff game at Immaculata La Salle High School field on Tuesday, February 7, 2017.
La Salle midfielder Giovani Ventura (13) and midfielder Marco Raucci (21) reacts after defeating North Broward in penalty shoot-out of the boys soccer playoff game at Immaculata La Salle High School field on Tuesday, February 7, 2017. dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

Soccer games are dramatic at La Salle these days.

And the results are becoming more and more historic.

Once again on Tuesday night a wild celebration of Royal Lions’ fans broke out on their home field as La Salle moved on following a second tense penalty-kick shootout in four days.

Much like he did this past Saturday in a win over Gulliver, sophomore goalkeeper Iker Sanchez Gasser made another big save and the Royal Lions took advantage of two misses by North Broward Prep strikers to secure a 3-2 shootout victory over the visiting Eagles in the Region 4-2A final.

“I can’t explain it,” Sanchez Gasser said. “We’re just a hard working team, and we don’t care by how much we’re down. We always keep fighting until we go back up. This is amazing.”

Following a scoreless draw through regulation and both overtime periods, Felipe Batista, Giovani Ventura and Eugenio Elizondo converted their penalty kicks to help La Salle (15-3-5) advance to the state semifinals for the first time.

The Royal Lions will host Tampa Berkeley Prep on Friday night at 7 p.m.

It is the first time La Salle has advanced to a state semifinal in a team sport since its baseball team made it in 1974.

North Broward Prep, which was looking to reach state for the first time since 2010, had numerous chances in regulation to take the lead by could not get one past Sanchez Gasser. La Salle likewise was stifled often by keeper Zach Newman.

In the shootout round, both teams found the mark on each of their first two shots as Danny Espinosa and Sergil Olkhovskyi scored for the Eagles.

But Eddie Reyna missed North Broward’s third attempt over the crossbar.

Elizondo’s make put La Salle ahead.

Then Sanchez Gasser blocked Evan Von Oehsen’s shot.

Newman kept the Eagles alive with a save on La Salle’s next shot by Matthew Bared, but the game ended when Chris Vinasco also lifted his shot high over the goal.

“When I came over here, our goal was to develop a program and put in a structure where you don’t have to play pretty and win,” said La Salle coach Richard Jobson, who is in his second year coaching the Royal Lions after having led Heritage to state in 2014. “You can play ugly and win. As long as you play structured and trust your teammates, you can win.”

▪ Region 4-4A Final — Doral Academy 4, Fort Lauderdale 1: Three second-half goals advanced host Doral Academy to a state soccer semifinal for the first time in school history as the Firebirds (23-2-1) topped Fort Lauderdale (23-2-5).

Doral will host Venice in the state semifinal on Friday at 7 p.m.

Felipe Ospina scored twice. His first goal came when he put in a pass off a corner kick in the 10th minute. Ospina’s second goal was the first of the second half and was off a strike from the top right side of the box in the 49th minute.

“It’s a feeling that I can’t describe,” Ospina said of going to state. “We need to keep doing what we have done all season. The final-four teams are all tough, so it’s going to be a battle.”

Fort Lauderdale scored its lone goal in the 28th minute. Gael Beaucejour slipped in a short free kick out of a unique formation with four players in place to possibly attempt the kick.

The third Firebirds’ goal was scored on a strike from the right of the box by Andoni Garrogerricaechebarria in the 60th minute. Hector Henriquez scored the final goal on a cross in the 74th minute.

Darren Collette

▪ Region 4-1A Final — Palmer Trinity 6, Miami Country Day 0: Falcons coach Eric Perri knew that in order for Palmer Trinity to elevate itself to a state-championship-caliber team it had to take a more aggressive offensive approach.

It has delivered so far in the playoffs.

The Falcons (21-1-1) put together an offensive barrage that didn’t let up during a rout of the visiting Spartans (12-6-3).

Henry Fernandez and Miguel Sierra each scored goals in the first 12 minutes to spark the blowout. Andres Montana scored the first of two goals before halftime.

Alberto Franceschi and Devin Arango-Dueñas each scored a goal, and Andrew Watson had two assists.

“One of the things we’ve worked a lot, especially with our forwards, was developing guys that could play high-energy and go 100 percent for an entire match,” Perri said. “We knew we had to be aggressive against a team like Country Day to be able to win.”

Palmer secured its first berth in the state semifinals since 2004 and will host Lakeland Christian on Friday.

The game is tentatively scheduled for 1:30 p.m. to be played before Palmer Trinity’s girls’ team plays Lakeland Christian in its state semifinal at 3:30.

ANDRE C. FERNANDEZ

▪ Region 4-3A Final — Immokalee 2, American Heritage 2 (Immokalee wins 7-6 in PKs): Heritage took a 2-0 lead on goals by Joseph Vinson and Landon Lupo before the visiting Indians rallied in the second half to force overtime. The Patriots were vying for their first trip to the state final four since 2013.

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