FORT MYERS — Berkeley Prep had a simple plan coming into Friday’s Class 2A region final at Bishop Verot: Keep it close and find a way.
That strategy resulted in the Buccaneers’ third consecutive trip to the final four as sophomore Lance Esposito’s goal in the 73rd minute provided the only scoring in a 1-0 victory over the previously unbeaten Vikings.
“We’ve played these kind of close games all season long,” said Berkeley Prep coach Tim Cooper, whose team survived its 10th one-goal contest of the season Friday. “I think that really helped up stay comfortable tonight.”
The Bucs (10-10-5) controlled the action early, with four quality shots in the game’s first 20 minutes, but couldn’t find the net. Bishop Verot (18-1-3), which entered the game having outscored opponents 76-9, turned up the heat in the final 10 minutes of the first half.
The Vikings had their best chance at getting on the scoreboard in the 35th minute, but Berkeley Prep senior goalkeeper Ben Milliken’s diving stop on a header by Bishop Verot sophomore Cullen Duquette kept the game scoreless.
The Bucs returned to their offensive dominance in the second half and finally cashed in when Esposito leaped to head senior Austin Iglehart’s 53-yard indirect kick past sophomore keeper Brandon Doyle and into the lower right corner of the net.
“I’m really proud of these guys; they deserve it,” Cooper said. “It’s coming together for us at the right time.”