FORT LAUDERDALE - When midfielder Michael Gillman gave Jesuit a one-goal lead in the 63rd minute Friday against Jensen Beach, the Tigers not only felt as if the game was in hand, but figured more goals were possible.
"We thought we had them," Gillman said.
That was hardly the case.
In a stunning turn of events down the stretch, the Falcons scored twice in the final 13 minutes to rally for a 4-3 victory at Lockhart Stadium as Jesuit's first final four appearance since 2001 ended in heartbreak. The winner came off the foot of Jerry Balzer in the 78th minute.
"They didn't quit," Jesuit coach Bob Bauman said of Jensen Beach. "Every time we got a goal, they came right back at us."
No previous Jesuit opponent had scored more than three goals, making the Tigers' late-game defensive lapse all the more improbable.
In 29 previous outings, the Tigers (24-5-1) allowed a combined 16 goals while pitching 21 shutouts. Jensen Beach (21-2), in its first final four appearance, was outshot 19-11 but simply made the most of its scoring opportunities.
"I think we played better and had the ball more, but we just gave up a couple of bad shots," Bauman said.
Jesuit was seeking its seventh state championship, but fell behind 1-0 in the 14th minute on the first of three Kyle Conrad goals.
The Tigers rallied to tie on a penalty kick by midfielder Santi Alexis 19 minutes later, then Alexis struck again on another penalty kick with 42 seconds left in the half.
"We felt then that the momentum had swung," Alexis said.
Jensen Beach made it 2-all eight minutes into the second half, but Jesuit again surged ahead, this time on Gillman's score, which came on an assist from Alexis.
After Jensen Beach took the lead for good, Jesuit had a few late scoring chances, but its best effort was a shot that sailed well high of the net.
2A: Terps fall shortFORT LAUDERDALE … Tampa Prep outshot, outmuscled and outplayed Delray Beach American Heritage in the final 38 minutes, but it wasn't enough.
The Terrapins can thank the first 42 minutes for that.
Taking advantage of Tampa Preps's somewhat shaky start, American Heritage built a two-goal lead, then hung on for a 2-1 win at Lockhart Stadium, ending the Terrapins' bid for consecutive titles.
"It definitely feels awful," Tampa prep defender Robby Goldsberry said. "They played a good game. They deserved to win."
After falling behind 2-0 early in the second half, Tampa Prep (22-5-3) made a game of it after a goal by midfielder Davis Miller in the 63rd minute.
Down the stretch, the Terrapins did everything they could to even the score, but couldn't find the net despite the fact their offense seemed to be, at times, in total control.
With 85 seconds left, a header sailed wide. A minute later, another went just high, which sealed it for American Heritage (12-9-2).