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JESUIT CLEARING PATH BACK TO TOP

The last time Jesuit won a state title was 2001.

After Tuesday's hard-fought 3-2 win over East Lake, this year's streak of the Tigers - ranked No. 5 in the country - is beginning to remind coach Bob Bauman of that championship team.

The Tigers will host Bradenton Southeast on Friday. Southeast stunned Manatee, one of only two teams to beat Jesuit this season, 3-0 in their semifinal.

Bauman said he wanted a rematch with Manatee, but the win over East Lake showed him his team is ready for anyone.

"We recovered from our mistakes,'' Bauman said.

The first one led to an East Lake lead 91 seconds in, as an errant throw-in out of the corner by the Tigers set up Juan Alcala's goal.

But just before halftime, Arthur Beil squeezed between two Eagles defenders to net the equalizer, changing the flow of the game.

In the second half, the Tigers (26-2) dominated, despite falling behind 2-1 on a fluky goal when keeper Max Renaldo badly misplayed a ball near the top of the box in the 49th minute.

Constantly peppering keeper David Kirkbridge, however, it appeared to be only a matter of time before Jesuit broke through.

And it was. Greg Sasser tied the match in the 52nd minute, and then Josh Menendez ripped the game-winner past Kirkbridge with seven minutes left.

Menendez, who had been stoned by the Eagles keeper on a 2-on-1 breakaway earlier, shot low from roughly 25 yards out.

"I misjudged it,'' said Kirkbridge, who was busy most of the second half and kept his team in the game. "It just dipped and took a bounce and got past me.''

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