On a field less than four miles from Disney’s Magic Kingdom, the Miami Beach boys soccer team rung up a little magic of its own on Saturday night.
Despite playing on just one day’s rest after a tough, brutally physical win over Cypress Bay in a regional final Thursday night, the Hi-Tides didn’t flinch as they made the three hour trip north to the Orlando area and busted the doors off of Celebration High School, clobbering the Storm 7-2 in a Class 5A state semifinal.
And with that, the Hi Tides are headed to the 5A state championship game next Saturday, Feb. 24 where they will square off against Plant City at Spec Martin Stadium in DeLand at 1 p.m. It was 24 years ago (1994) that they made their only other state final four appearance, dropping a 2-1 decision to Melbourne in the title game.
Beach’s win capped off a big night for South Florida soccer teams as Palmer Trinity and Plantation American Heritage both came up with big road wins as well. Heritage turned in a shockingly easy 4-0 shutout of Merritt Island while Palmer landed its first ever berth in a state final with a 1-0 win over Winter Haven All Saints Academy.
“What a great moment for these kids, this program, this school and this community,” said Beach head coach Edgar Botto. “To overcome what we overcame, practically no rest because our Cypress game was delayed by 24 hours, having to scramble at the last minute to arrange for transportation when we couldn’t get the game pushed back a few days and then to come up here and play the way they did tonight, says everything you need to know about this group of kids.”
Because their Cypress Bay game was postponed on Wednesday due to the tragic shootings at Douglas High School, Beach officials had asked the state for permission to move the game to next Tuesday since the title game wasn’t until the following Saturday. The state said yes but Celebration said no, claiming it was unable to push the game back due to other scheduling conflicts.
“I’m not sure about what went in to that decision and it was disappointing,” said Botto. “But what it did do was really fire my kids up and give them some extra incentive to go out there and really perform tonight and you saw the result.”
After the teams battled to a 1-1 tie in the first half, it was a five minute span seven minutes in to the second half that decided the issue as the Hi-Tides (24-2-1) stunned the Storm and their home crowd by scoring three times to go up 4-1.
After Toby Squire scored a first half goal, Alfredo Astarburuaga to the three goal barrage going by scoring in the 47th minute. Three minutes later Astaburuaga scored again off a corner before Julian Enriquez popped one in two minutes after that. Josue “Chino” Aguilar, Leo Acosta and Dennis Ortega added a goal each from there to complete a six goal second half barrage.
3A STATE SEMIFINAL: PLANTATION AMERICAN HERITAGE 4, MERRITT ISLAND 0
It was supposed to be a tough, tightly contested road challenge for the Plantation American Heritage boys soccer team.
Instead the Patriots turned in a near impeccable performance as they scored two first half goals and wound up cruising to a surprisingly easy win over the Mustangs, the defending state runners up in 3A a year ago, on their home field.
Heritage (20-1-2), which has won five state titles, the last coming in 2012, advances to the 3A state championship game and will take on defending 3A champ Daytona Beach Seabreeze at Spec Martin Stadium in DeLand on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 4 p.m.
Benji Grossi and Miles Walters each scored in the first half before Alex Wallace and Alex Duchiene each scored one in the second half.
“Merritt Island is a great program that had another great year but our kids were up to the task tonight,” said Heritage head coach Todd Goodman. “Organization on defense, winning first and second balls and creating scoring opportunities has been our recipe for success all season long and that’s what carried us through tonight.”
1A STATE SEMIFINAL: PALMER TRINITY 1, ALL SAINTS ACADEMY 0.
Sergio Sannia got to a loose ball in front of the net just after the second half water break and knocked it in for the only goal of the game as Palmer Trinity edged All Saints Academy in Winter Haven.
Palmer, which fell to Lakeland Christian at home in last year’s state semi, will now head to Spec Martin Stadium in DeLand to play in its first state championship game. The Falcons (20-2) will take on defending 1A state champion Tallahassee Maclay on Thursday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.
Alberto Franceschi dumped a perfect pass down low in front of the net that the All Saints keeper could not handle allowing Sannia to get to it. Falcon keeper Mathias Acosta protected his net for there before the final whistle blew.
“The one thing about this special group of kids is that they are relentless,” said Palmer head coach Eric Perri. “They all remembered the pain of that loss to Lakeland Christian a year ago and with the core of that team back, they were determined to find a way to get back here again and not come up short. They’re a bunch of grinders and they were grinding away tonight.”
▪ District 13-9A final - North Miami 66, Hialeah Gardens 55 - HG (19-7): Lopez 22, Suarez 17, Galezo 8, Borrell 4, Alic 2. NM (21-5): Laurent 17, Innocent 11, Hart V. 10, Monestime 10, Guillaume 8, Hart C. 4, Smith 4, Charles 2, Meronne 2. Rebounds: Borrell 8. Assists: Suarez 8. Steals: Suarez 2, Borrell 2, Lopez 2. Three-pointers: Lopez 3.
▪ District 16-7A final - Doral 52, Miami Springs 22: DA: Ayesa 22, Nuñez 13, Ford 7, K. Perez 6, R. Perez 4. MS: Aguilar 6, Lavernia 6, Chestnut 3, Posada 3, Freeman 2, Larose 2. Half: Doral 35-10. Three-pointers: Ayesa 2
▪ Region 4-5A quarterfinal - Monsignor Pace 47, Pine Crest 35: PC: Shapino 2, Abuham 2, Eible 3, Bejar 6, Morris 6, Weinberg 6. MP: Dolce 2, Joseph 2, Mercado 2, Whitifield 7, Daley 8, Domond 13, Troup-Bishop 15. Rebounds: Domond 13. Steals: Domond 3. Assists: Troup-Bishop 3. Blocks: Daley: 2.