High School Sports

La Salle’s run ends; Doral, Cypress Bay off to state

Palmer Trinity’s Devin Aragon-Denas (24) heads the ball as Lakeland Christian’s Tanner Molony defends in a Class 1A state semifinal on Friday.
Palmer Trinity’s Devin Aragon-Denas (24) heads the ball as Lakeland Christian’s Tanner Molony defends in a Class 1A state semifinal on Friday. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

La Salle’s boys’ soccer team appeared to be following the same pattern for the third consecutive match.

But this time, the Royal Lions did not get the chance for more shootout heroics.

After 95-plus scoreless minutes, a La Salle turnover near its own goal allowed Berkeley Prep freshman J.T. Copper to swoop in and score the golden goal in the second overtime to end the Royal Lions’ historic run to the state final four.

La Salle (15-4-5) had won its two previous games over Gulliver and North Broward Prep in the shootout round following scoreless draws through regulation and overtime.

The Royal Lions had advanced to their first state semifinal in any sport since their baseball team made it in 1974.

“We ran out of luck,” La Salle coach Richard Jobson said. “But we’re learning. I feel bad for our seniors, but we’ll learn a lot from this, and I guarantee you we’ll be back stronger and better.”

Jobson said he was proud of how much progress his team had made in only two seasons since he became coach.

La Salle graduates only four seniors from its roster.

“With the potential we have, I’m confident we have a state-championship run within us in the next couple of years,” Jobson said. “Our best players are sophomores, and I think we’ll be better.”

▪ Class 4A state semifinal — Doral Academy 6, Venice 1: Doral Academy secured its first trip to the state boys’ soccer finals with a convincing home victory over Venice.

The Firebirds (24-2-1) took an early 2-0 lead into halftime but were really able to take it to the next level in the second half scoring an additional four goals.

Doral will take on Orange Park Fleming Island next Saturday at Spec Martin Memorial Stadium in DeLand for the Class 4A state championship at 1 p.m.

“We were able to exploit some stuff on defense after halftime,” Doral coach Pamela McDonald. “We took advantage of our opportunities.”

Four different players scored for Doral. Midfielders Juan Castano and Hector Henriquez each scored twice.

“It’s important to get everyone involved in the game,” McDonald said. “We are like a family out there.”

RUSSELL QUINOA

▪ Class 5A state semifinal Cypress Bay 1, Vero Beach 0: Elias Bruzual’s far-post placement paid off in the first half of the Lightning’s over visiting Vero Beach.

But the junior midfielder was getting nervous as second half seconds dwindled down, having nightmares of last year’s 1-0 loss to Winter Park.

“It’s a great feeling,” said Bruzual, who also scored the winner in the regional final. “Last year we lost in the states right here in the semifinals. Twenty seconds to go and it was haunting me the whole game. Especially on that last play, the long throw in. I actually thought they were going to score.”

But Sebastian Deckers wasn’t about to see a repeat. The keeper kept a clean sheet and notched seven saves. The Lightning (22-1-2), which has won four state titles since 2011, will battle Bradenton Lakewood Ranch next Saturday in the 5A championship at 4 p.m. at Spec Martin Memorial Stadium in DeLand. Vero Beach (10-8-5) was playing in its first state semifinal.

“Coach told us that they were playing a high line and the wingers were not really leaving their space,” Bruzual said. “So the right back just put it in for me and I thought about crossing it, but the keeper was coming out so I just shot. He made pretty good saves. He is actually a really good keeper.”

ALEX BUTLER

▪ Class 1A state semifinal — Lakeland Christian 2, Palmer Trinity 1: Lakeland Christian’s Taylor Morton scored the go-ahead goal in the 45th minute that ended host Palmer Trinity’s season a game shy of the 1A state championship.

“These guys came in aggressive, but in the end it just didn’t go our way and I have to hand it to Lakeland Christian,” Palmer Trinity coach Eric Perri said. The only other loss for Palmer Trinity (21-2-0) came to Ransom Everglades.

Lakeland Christian (20-3-2) scored in the 25th minute when Jacob Koretchko got his foot on a loose ball in front of the goal. Palmer Trinity controlled possession during most of the first half, but also received two yellow cards.

In the 44th minute, the Falcons got a goal from Nicolas Rey to level the score at 1. Shortly after, Morton scored on a header.

DARREN COLLETTE

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