TAMPA — For 100 minutes, Jesuit and Plantation American Heritage’s defenses dominated as the teams played to a scoreless draw. Both back lines were impenetrable, but someone had to score.
So the refs cleared the field of all but one defender, the goalkeeper, and the game headed to penalty kicks. And after four rounds, the Patriots came out on top, handing Jesuit a heartbreaking 0-0 (4-3 PKs) defeat in a Class 3A state semifinal in the pouring rain.
“Like I said a few days ago, PKs are a crap shoot,” Jesuit coach Bob Bauman said. “It’s a tough way to lose. It’s difficult.”
The Tigers (20-4-1) had eked out victories in their past two games, a 2-1 overtime thriller against Palmetto and a 2-1 (3-2 PKs) win over Immokalee. Initially, though, it looked like American Heritage might be too quick for Jesuit, as the Patriots generated several scoring chances, including a ball that was cleared out of the box by Tigers defender Jake Iurato. American Heritage (27-3-3) had four first-half shots to Jesuit’s one, but slowly the momentum shifted.
In the second half Jesuit kept the Patriots defense active as the Tigers launched four shots while American Heritage only managed one.
And Jesuit continued to pressure the Patriots in both 10-minute overtimes. Tigers senior Brett Durrance, who scored four postseason goals, had the only OT shot, a boot that sailed wide of the left goalpost.
“We took the game to them in the second half and in overtime, and I thought for us, it really was just going to be a matter of time before we put one away,” Bauman said. “Unfortunately we just couldn’t quite get one in the back of the net.”
Alex Moore, Joseph Metzger and Iurato converted on Jesuit’s first three penalty kicks. Kevin Cabrera, Julian Franco-Betancour and Samuel Vinson kept pace for American Heritage. And then, it was Patriots goalkeeper Juan Cano time’s to shine, as he stopped the next two balls Jesuit sent at him to seal the victory for the Patriots, who had rehearsed those exact shots on their own recently installed turf field.