TAMPA — After handily beating Jefferson eight days earlier in the district final, Jesuit was stymied in the first half by the Dragons in the teams' third meeting this season.
But on the last kick of the first half, Andrew Motzer scored off a deflected save by goalie Fernando Roman to breathe life into his offense to help the Tigers (27-1) win 2-0 in a Class 3A region semifinal. Ranked eighth in MaxPreps' national rankings, Jesuit recorded its 20th shutout this year and extended its win streak to 16 games.
"I told them it would be tough to beat a team (Jefferson, 11-8-2) three times," Jesuit coach Eric Sims said. "The goal at the end of the half was huge from a momentum standpoint and we were able to settle in after that."
With the win, Jesuit advanced to Wednesday's region final to face Merritt Island for the fifth straight year. In its previous four regional finals, Jesuit won once in 2016 when it advanced to the state semifinals.
As a defenseman, Motzer's goal was his second this season, scored off a free kick that was saved by Jefferson goalie Fernando Roman. When teammate William Rodriguez lined up for the kick, Motzer said the Tigers were running a set play to anticipate where the ball would be deflected.
"I knew where my teammate was going to shoot the ball and the goalie rebounded it back to me," Motzer said.
Though the teams' rivalry flared up in the second half with two yellow cards thrown, then a red card, Jesuit turned to a player, sophomore Carson Bien, who was on its JV team until two weeks ago for its second goal.
With 16:19 left, Bien was in position on a free kick deflected by Roman to score on a rebound kick nearly identical to the Tigers' first goal.
"I anticipate where the goalie rebound is going to go so I can be right there for the shot," Bien said.
Though he knows his players showed frustration with their district rival, Jefferson coach Sam Fairman was pleased with his team's performance.
"We know that they're the barrier for us in this region," Fairman said. "We keep getting this far and we made silly mistakes."
Darin Klahr, Times correspondent