TAMPA — Given the annual success the Jesuit soccer team has had over the years — in the past 21 years, the Tigers failed to make the state tournament just six times and won six state titles — it's rare to hear coach Bob Bauman use the "R" word.
But after Jesuit's 4-1 loss to Palmetto in Tuesday's Class 4A region semifinal, Bauman had to remind himself this year's squad was one that played well despite being in transition.
With two freshman starters, and as many as five sophomores finding their way into the starting lineup, the Tigers were young. And in Palmetto, they ran into just the opposite: a hungry team with 12 seniors poised for its second straight state tournament berth.
"People didn't expect us to do anything this year," Bauman said. "People forget that we're young. We lived and died with a freshman keeper. We learn from it. We'll be ready to go next year."
The Palmetto players didn't have to be reminded of the magnitude of the win. Despite making their fourth straight region final, this one was big, shown by the fact that team took photos in front of Jesuit's scoreboard after the game.
Ultimately, the Tigers' youth showed. Palmetto's first two goals — at the 15th and 26th minute marks — came on balls that went in and out of the Jesuit keeper's hands and into the net.
Jesuit sophomore Brett Durrance's header in the 35th minute closed the gap to one, but Palmetto answered less than two minutes later on a free kick by Brandon Waddy from 31 yards out that skipped quickly on the turf and into the net.
From there, Jesuit (18-5-4) picked up the pace but couldn't score. The Tigers pinged one shot off the post and let the ball roll harmlessly across the mouth of the goal on one play.
But it was that kind of night for Jesuit — from beginning to end. The Tigers had a goal called back in the fourth minute because of an offsides call, and in the final minute Palmetto scored a gut-punch goal on a lofting kick from 30 yards out.
"Anytime you can come up here and beat Jesuit in itself is a heck of an accomplishment, because they don't lose here," Palmetto coach Dustin Dahlquist said.