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TAMPA — Their objective against a sleek, skilled side from the East Coast was to be a possession team, with the hopes it would parlay into being a state championship team.
Instead, Berkeley Prep must settle for being a resilient one.
In a tense, fast-paced Class 2A state final Friday at USF’s Corbett Soccer Stadium, the Buccaneers (19-8-2) overcame a pair of one-goal deficits in regulation before succumbing to Melbourne West Shore 3-2 in double overtime.
The decisive goal occurred with 4:22 to play in the second OT, when senior John Bocinsky trapped a through ball with his chest before one-timing it past Bucs keeper Lee Newhaller, who had sparkled in overtime to that point.
Moments later, several Bucs seniors — who lost by a goal in the 2009 state final as freshmen — openly wept as athletic director Bobby Reinhart placed silver medals around their necks.
“That (2009) was the worst feeling I’ve ever had because there were 13 seniors that year, and it’s the same feeling this year,” senior defender Mark Biddinger said. “I feel like all these guys are my brothers. We just came up short.”
On grass dampened by early-evening rain, West Shore excelled in transition and maximized the wider dimensions of the Corbett Stadium pitch. The Wildcats struck first in the 35th minute when Ryan Robidoux drilled a one-timer from the top of the box.
Newhaller, lunging his 6-foot-2 frame to the right, appeared to get a hand on the ball but couldn’t deflect it. Three minutes into the second half, however, Berkeley answered on a Daniel Felman goal.
Tyler Moscrip’s rebound shot off a corner kick in the 55th minute gave the Wildcats a 2-1 lead, but Chris Murphy’s header with 17:05 to go tied the score.
Tyler Sacone nearly gave the Bucs a late lead, but his point-blank shot from 10 yards in the 74th minute was stopped by eighth-grade ’Cats keeper Allan Joyner. Similarly, Newhaller stopped two Nabil Motlagh shots inside the box in the first overtime as West Shore pressured relentlessly.
“They were breaking on the counterattacks and we were struggling to get back behind the ball,” Berkeley coach Timothy Cooper said.
“Our boys worked hard all night. We were down 1-0 and came back, down 2-1 and came back. But it was a great finish at the end. (Bocinsky) took it well and that was it. I think we were just struggling there with our legs maybe.”
Editor's note: The official scoring report provided by the FHSAA credits both Berkeley Prep goals to other players. Berkeley's coach, Timothy Cooper, however, disputes the report so we corrected the story to reflect the players Cooper said actually scored.