TAMPA — Lakewood Ranch senior goalkeeper Daniel Murray stood between the goal posts, his hands by his side and his heart racing as Jesuit captain Alexander Rados approached the ball that sat on the penalty spot.
As Rados slotted a shot toward the right side of the goal, Murray went the same way and denied it with his feet. He then threw his hands in the air, turned around and saw a herd of people wearing green — teammates, fans and coaches — sprinting toward him in celebration. Across the field, Jesuit players sat stunned, realizing their run for a state title had come to a sudden, shocking end.
Murray's save gave Lakewood Ranch a 3-2 victory (2-1 on penalty kicks), completing a wild comeback after being down 2-0 in the first half to seal a spot in the 4A region semifinals next week.
"We always find a way to fight and crawl back," Murray said.
The Mustangs (19-4-3) were down 2-1 with two minutes remaining in regulation. But senior defender Seth Browning poked in a goal after Jesuit failed to clear a ricocheted corner kick. The Tigers (24-5) had an early 2-0 lead with goals from Tyler Hartlage and Brett Durrance, but Marco Padilla made it 2-1 with a well-taken free kick in the first half, setting up the comeback.
"We had so many missed opportunities. We hit the post, we hit the crossbar, chips right to the keeper, point-blank shots. We had a couple of great chances it just wasn't our night," Jesuit coach Bob Bauman said.