TAMPA — Countryside put a scare into nationally ranked New Orleans Jesuit, but the Blue Jays advanced to the final of the 16th Annual High School Invitational at Ed Radice Sports Complex with a 2-0 win Tuesday night. Jesuit will face Melbourne, a 5-0 winner against Orlando Bishop Moore in the other semifinal, in today's 2 p.m. championship match.
"Our kids played with a lot of heart," assistant coach Colby Beckman said. "The effort was there but Jesuit is a pretty good side."
After a number of Blue Jays near-misses, Steven Cabos ripped a 25-yard right-footed strike to give Jesuit a 1-0 lead in the 29th minute. Jesuit, ranked No. 5 in the latest ESPN RISE Fab 50, continued to press but was unable to connect.
"We had a number of quality chances and on most days our strikers finish those," Jesuit coach Hubie Collins said.
Countryside managed to stay within striking range and nearly got the equalizer with 15 minutes to play but after maneuvering around Jesuit keeper Joe Hart, Zack Shriver's shot sailed just wide. Countryside moved another attacker up top and continued to pressure, but Patrick Culotta finished off an Andrew Moise through ball to put the match away.
In earlier second-place pool action, Montverde beat Tampa Prep 5-1, Mitchell defeated Seminole 2-0 and Tampa Jesuit beat Niceville 1-0. In the third-place pool, Gaither beat Sarasota 3-1, Stanton Prep shut out Berkeley Prep 1-0 and Clearwater Central Catholic defeated Orangewood Christian 32 (5-3 in penalty kicks). In the first-place pool quarterfinals, Bishop Moore beat Land O'Lakes 2-1, Countryside defeated Palm Harbor University 4-2 and New Orleans Jesuit defeated Sickles 5-1.