TAMPA — This has been a season of dominance for nationally-ranked Jesuit and so there was every reason for the team to celebrate their 4-0 victory over Jefferson in Friday’s Class 3A, District 9 boys soccer championship.
While Jesuit players stormed the field in celebration and cheered loudly when accepting the district title trophy, the Tigers couldn’t help but look ahead to the playoffs that begin Wednesday.
"We’ve doing been this all season and this was just a small step on the road to our goal of winning the state title," senior Andres Cartaya said. "That’s what we’ve been trying for since the beginning of the season is to get back to states."
Jesuit will host Osceola in the region quarterfinals. Jefferson advances to play Boca Ciega.
The Tigers, which last won a state title in 2001, were ranked ninth nationally this week by maxpreps.com and improved to 25-1.
Cartaya started the scoring eight minutes into the game when he drilled a corner shot that a came off the save of Jefferson goalie Fernando Roman.
"It was good to get a goal early to help shut them down," Cartaya said. "I knew a man was coming behind me so (teammate) Andrew Motzer told me to shoot it so I kicked and it went in."
Connor Stuart scored a short time later to give Jesuit a 2-0 lead in the first half with a header off an inbound pass. With its stifling defense, Jesuit controlled the ball decisively most of the game.
The Tigers’ defense, led by University of Tampa commit Noah Kurtz and Jeffrey Masser, used an aggressive, swarming strategy to prevent Jefferson from getting any shots on goal until midway through the second half.
Quintin Hoggard and Kurth both scored goals in the second half, sealing the Tigers’ 18th shutout victory this season.