Sunset soccer players rushed the field with a bucket Thursday night, trying to douse coach Jay Flipse with iced water.
Flipse surprised his players by outrunning them and avoiding the traditional celebration.
The Knights weren’t too disappointed, though. In their minds, they haven’t reached their main goal yet.
Led by goals from Jonathan Diaz and Eddy Piniero, the Knights won their second consecutive GMAC title with a 2-0 victory over Reagan High at Memorial Field.
But Sunset has not forgotten the painful memory of last year’s district semifinal defeat that left it out of the playoffs just days after celebrating a county championship.
“We talked about playing the game and not putting too much emotional investment into this game,” Flipse said. “It’s obviously a meaningful tournament within the season, though, and it means a lot to these kids.”
The Knights (13-3-2) lost to South Dade in the district round last season following an emotional GMAC victory over rival Varela last season. Sunset could face South Dade again in next week’s District 16-5A playoffs if the Bucs beat Palmetto in the quarterfinal round.
Flipse, the Knights’ coach during its two national championship seasons in 2004 and 2005, thinks his team, which returned 11 players from last season, has a better mind-set this time around.
“I told the kids tonight to play with their minds and their feet, but not too much with their heart because we need to save that for the playoffs,” Flipse said.
Sunset didn’t waste much time taking the advantage Thursday against the Bison (16-4-2), who pressured throughout most of the second half and nearly tied the score late.
Diaz scored following a shot by Fernando Hernandez that was deflected by Reagan’s goalkeeper. Diaz put home the rebound as Sunset led 1-0 in the 17th minute.
With stellar play from defender Juan Duque, Sunset held off numerous scoring attempts by Reagan in the second half until the 74th minute when Piniero found the back of the net off a cross to put the match out of reach.
“[Duque] has done a great job all season closing the door on other teams back there and deserves recognition,” Flipse said. “These kids walk past those championship pictures every day at our school, and they want to make their own piece of history this season.”