Tampa Jesuit ended Ridgewood's stellar boys soccer season Tuesday night, taking the Class 3A, Region V championship with a 4-1 victory at Jesuit High.
John McGregor came off the bench to score the only goal for
Ridgewood. It cut Jesuit's lead to 2-1 with 11 minutes left, but the Tigers pulled away.
"I'm proud of the guys," Ridgewood coach Robert Shirmohammad said. "No one expected us to go this far, to beat Gulf three times. I'm very pleased with how they played. I don't think the score is indicative of how the game went."
Ridgewood (17-4) held the Tigers scoreless for 53 minutes, but Jesuit had more scoring opportunities.
Though the midfield was mutual property through the first half, Jesuit (16-5-4) was attacking more often when it did take control. The Rams' back line and a few good saves by goalkeeper Ivan Castano kept Ridgewood from going down early.
The three victories over Gulf followed the same first-half pattern. But in those matches, Ridgewood turned up the tempo after the break. This time, Jesuit turned up the heat.
"I think Ridgewood played us as hard as it could in the first half and didn't come away with anything," Jesuit coach Bob Bauman said. "So we really stepped it up in the second half, and all of a sudden we started winning everything."
Jesuit held control of the midfield. While Jesuit kept Ridgewood shooting from outside, speedy Tigers forwards took the game to the Ridgewood goal.
Jay Rooth opened the scoring 13 minutes into the second half. A kick from Brian Valdez bounced around in the box to Brain Zellner, who headed it over to Rooth on the far side. Rooth unloaded point-blank past Castano.
Ridgewood had been winning the ball in the back, but not after the first goal. The Tigers used their speed to create several scoring opportunities before Calderon's header put them up 2-0 with 19:41 remaining.
McGregor's goal came just a minute after Shirmohammad sent him onto the field. Vinny Vurro hit a ground ball across the Jesuit goal, and goalkeeper Eric Sims missed it on the dive. As the ball sped past him, McGregor slid to the right and knifed a shot into the open goal.
But Jesuit kept Ridgewood on the defensive and finished up with a late pair. Castano misjudged a direct kick by Jason Kmiotek that crossed to Chris Cole, who scored on the open goal. Three minutes later, Zellner turned on the speed, blowing past sweeper Anthony Lendino to score unassisted.