One year after suffering a shocking first-round upset loss to MAST Academy after coming in as the two-time defending state champions, the Gulliver boys’ soccer team was determined not to let it happen again on Wednesday afternoon.
And the Raiders did not. Even though they faced a very talented Edison team much earlier than they would have expected (after Edison was upset by LaSalle in its district final), they used an early Truman Gelnovatch goal to build some early momentum and eventually dispatch Edison 2-0 in a Region 4-2A quarterfinal match at Gulliver.
The win pushes the Raiders (17-1-3) into Saturday’s regional semifinals, where they will host LaSalle at Gulliver at 2 p.m. or possibly at FIU at 7 p.m.
Gelnovatch’s goal was a shocker for everyone including his own teammates. Less than three minutes into the game, a deep ball down the right line from Guillermo Meneses appeared headed out of bounds.
But Gelnovatch, despite being on the far right side from 30 yards out, went high with his right foot and fired a rocket over Edison keeper Belenske Eresia’s head for his team-leading 21st goal of the season.
“It was just about to go out of bounds, and I looked up and saw that their keeper had come out too far and was trying to get back to the net,” Gelnovatch said. “I guess he thought I was going to cross it, and I just got some good foot on it and one-timed it over his head before he got back to the net.”
From there, the Raiders played solid defense before adding an insurance goal in the game’s 55th minute when Gelnovatch rifled another shot from the left side that Eresia couldn’t handle and Gabriel Babtista knocked in on the rebound.
“Credit to Edison, a really great team, and we knew getting off to a good start early on today would be important, and you can’t get a better start than popping one in in the first three minutes,” said Gulliver coach Matias Asorey. “Truman has been big time for us all year — he knows how to put the ball in the back of the net and brings a handful to the table for an opponent.”
For Edison, which finished 20-3, it was a disappointing end to a historic season that came less than two weeks after the program’s first-ever GMAC championship.
Region 4-5A quarterfinal - Miami Beach 2, Varela 1 (PK: 4-2): Miami Beach goalkeeper Gabriel Suarez made two huge penalty kick saves to help the Hi Tides (20-2-1) advance.
"It was a tense game, but we can celebrate tonight and get back to practice tomorrow," Suarez said.
Following a scoreless first half, Marc Amores scored for Miami Beach off a rebound in the 51st minute. Varela's Rolando Arauz tied the score in the 73rd minute when he scored on a header. The overtime period expired without a goal.
Suarez dove left to deny the first penalty kick. He let in the second and fourth, but blocked the third Varela kick. Kevin Herrera, Luis Munoz and Tomas Iglesias scored the first three penalty kick goals. Leonardo Acosta scored the fourth penalty kick goal to clinch the victory.
Miami Beach will travel to Columbus on Saturday to face the Explorers in the semifinals.
Region 4-2A quarterfinal - La Salle 2, Keys Gate 0: After a slow start, La Salle scored twice to secure the victory.
“We started off really tight,” said LaSalle Coach Jorge San Miguel, “but we made some changes and got some guys off the bench, and then we really got going.”
The tie was broken late in the half with a goal by senior Bernie Marti off a rebound. Bautista Duhour also scored, and Felipe Baptista had both assists. Keeper Iker Sanchez recorded the shutout.
The Lions will play Gulliver in a region semifinal. Gulliver beat them 3-0 earlier in the season.
“Gulliver is a good squad,” said Miguel. “We are going to work hard watching tape and on the practice field.”
Region 4-4A quarterfinal - Reagan 1, St. Thomas Aquinas 0: The Bison made history early Wednesday evening at Tropical Park. Just one week after upsetting Doral Academy to win the district title, Reagan (17-6-3) won their first-ever regional playoff game when a Victor Herrera goal just two minutes before halftime stood up.
“This feels great,” Herrera said. “Reagan boys’ soccer made history today, and now we want to keep it going.”
Reagan will host Doral on Saturday in a regional semifinal at 7 p.m. with Tropical Park the likely venue.
Reagan’s goal came off a corner kick that Danny Perez headed toward the goal. The loose ball bounced around in the middle before Herrera snuck his right foot in and found the bottom-right corner of the net.
“Danny did a good job of heading it, and it was just a matter of getting to the ball before the keeper did,” Herrera said.
St. Thomas (16-4-2) applied big-time pressure over the last 15 minutes, but Reagan keeper Jonathan Velez was equal to the task making numerous quality saves.
Region 4-5A quarterfinal - Columbus 3, Coral Reef 1: Danny Mayorga scored a pair of goals and Eddie Velazco added one as Columbus cruised.
At 3 p.m. on Saturday, the Explorers (16-7-1) will host Miami Beach, which defeated Varela in penalty kicks in another region quarterfinal. Columbus edged Beach 2-1 in overtime in the district final last week.
Velasco gave his team a lead on Wednesday that it would never relinquish when he scored off an assist from Julian Sera in the 26th minute. Then, just four minutes before halftime, Velazco fed Mayorga a perfect ball down low, and he easily beat the Coral Reef keeper to make it 2-0.
Mayorga then made it 3-0 when he scored again six minutes into the second half. Patrick Munoz scored Coral Reef’s lone goal with 25 minutes left, but the Barracudas (9-4-4) could not penetrate good lockd-own Columbus defense for the remainder of the game.
“Even though we were up two at halftime, we know Reef is a good team and we had to keep playing,” said Mayorga who missed a hat trick by inches when his direct kick from 30 yards in the last minute hit the crossbar. “Once we got that third goal, we were in good shape. Now we have another tough one with Beach on Saturday, and we’ll have to be at our best.”
More boys’ soccer
▪ Region 4-1A quarterfinal - Palmer Trinity 5, SLAM 0: Alberto Franceschi had two goals and an assist, and Andres Montana scored twice to lift the Falcons (19-1-1). Henry Fernandez also scored, and Jonathan Ludwig added an assist. Keeper Ethan Dobbins recorded his 13th shutout. Palmer will host Archimedean on Saturday in a region semifinal at 3 p.m.
▪ Region 4-1A quarterfinal - Archimedean 5, Riviera Prep 0: Jourdan Zojaji scored three times, and Michael Villegas and David Cuitiva each had two assists. Cristian Cordon-Ruano and Dario Bovea Jr. added goals, and Juan Lopez had an assist.
▪ Region 3-5A quarterfinal - Stoneman Douglas 1, Wellington 0: Stoneman Douglas will host Coral Springs at 7 p.m. on Saturday in a region semifinal.
▪ Region 4-3A quarterfinal - American Heritage 1, Mourning 0 (OT): Landon Lupo scored the winner in sudden death overtime off an assist from Terrance Wilder. Keeper Jonathan Gomes recorded his 17th shutout for the Patriots (19-1-2). Heritage will host Pines Charter at 7 p.m. Saturday.
▪ Region 4-3A quarterfinal - Pembroke Pines Charter 2, Miami Jackson 0: Michael Reid and Christopher Sanchez each scored. Goalkeeper Alex Benitez recorded his eighth shutout for the Jaguars (14-6-2).
▪ Region 4-1A quarterfinal - Miami Country Day 2, Sagemont 1: Diego Oropeza scored from an assist from Dre Medici, and Owen Wesley Scored the game winner from an assist from Erik Pantin. The Spartans (11-5-3) will host Westminster Academy at 7 p.m. Saturday.