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Stunning upset warms Warriors, who earn district's top seed

Anthony Melatti, left, Oliver Ortiz and Davi Martins celebrate after Ortiz’s second-half goal gave first-year Steinbrenner a lead and top seeding in districts. “… Everyone doubted us,” Ortiz said.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Anthony Melatti, left, Oliver Ortiz and Davi Martins celebrate after Ortiz’s second-half goal gave first-year Steinbrenner a lead and top seeding in districts. “… Everyone doubted us,” Ortiz said.

LUTZ — Forget the 36-degree wind chill factor. The Steinbrenner Warriors and their bundled-up fans were numb for an altogether different reason Friday night.

They had just sent a startling ripple through the local prep soccer landscape.

Freshman Oliver "Oli" Ortiz's goal from near the top left corner of the box in the 72nd minute lifted the first-year Warriors (9-1-2) to a 2-1 upset of six-time state champion Jesuit before a tiny, frigid assembly at Steinbrenner High.

The victory not only gave Steinbrenner (8-0 in district play) the top seed in the upcoming Class 4A, District 9 tournament, it served notice the Warriors — who have no seniors and only five juniors — may be a rising county force.

"That is unbelievable, I think, because everyone doubted us," Ortiz said moments after emerging from a celebratory pile near midfield. "We didn't take that into our minds, we just went out, played our own game."

On arguably the coldest night of this recent Siberian snap, Jesuit (10-3-3, 5-1-1) scored in the first minute on Miguel Cadavid's header set up by Austin Jurado.

Twelve minutes later, Warriors junior captain Phillip Jorge sent in a pass to Ortiz, who got behind a defender and blistered a shot from roughly 20 yards to tie the match.

"I think the key after they scored that early goal was us being a little fearful of the name Jesuit," Warriors coach Chad Ebright said. "And once we finally realized that we can play with teams like Jesuit, we started playing better.

"Minute by minute, you could see the confidence building in the boys out there."

Jesuit, which collected 10 shots, failed to capitalize on several opportunities the rest of the way as Steinbrenner freshman keeper Michael Ruggles tallied no fewer than a half-dozen saves.

The Tigers' most prime chance: a point-blank shot in front of the net by captain Tyler Hartlage on a nifty cross that sailed over the crossbar in the first minute of the second half.

"I think the biggest thing was, we didn't show up," Tigers coach Bob Bauman said.

"We scored a goal and then you could see, we let up. We never got back in the game. You've got to hand it to them, those were two beautiful goals; they really were stunning goals. But they came from mistakes we made."

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Stunning upset warms Warriors, who earn district's top seed 01/08/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 8, 2010 11:06pm]
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