Region final wins don’t come much easier than Jesuit’s

The Tiger boys rout Eau Gallie 8-0, sparking the mercy rule.
Published Feb. 14, 2019

TAMPA — Oh, my. Eau Gallie never had a chance.

Jesuit, which has played and won more playoff matches than any school in state history, scored three times in the first 203 seconds and cruised to an 8-0 victory Wednesday for the Class 3A region boys soccer championship.

Play ended in the 80th minute with the mercy rule.

Zachary Board and Andrew Motzer each had a pair of first-half goals as Jesuit (22-2) advanced to the state semifinals for the first time since 2016. The Tigers play Saturday at defending state champ Plantation American Heritage.

“The boys came out really motivated, and it was a dream start for us to score so quick — especially in a regional final where we’ve struggled to get a result the past couple years," Jesuit coach Eric Sims said. "There was a little bit of concern for me, because I was worried we were going to stop playing. We were pressuring a lot and flying all over the place. The next 10 to 15 minutes, we weren’t doing that as much.

“So I was a little concerned maybe if (Eau Gallie) got a goal, they could get back in it. But after we scored the fourth goal, I felt good.”

Jesuit, a six-time state champion whose most recent title came in 2001, notched its 78th playoff victory from 106 overall matches. The Tigers scored on Eau Gallie (18-9) with only 42 seconds elapsed as Lucas Gobea blasted a 10-yard shot past Commodore goalkeeper Jack Smoak.

Board kept the momentum going, scoring twice in the ensuing 161 seconds for a 3-0 lead. William Rodriguez assisted on the first goal, and Board then connected on a 25-yard shot.

“We came out really fast from the first whistle like we always do,” Board said. “We always try to get up early on teams. . . . It gives a good advantage.

”We got one goal, two goals quick — and got to manage the game after that."

Motzer increased Jesuit’s lead to 5-0 before halftime, scoring off a corner kick by Trevor Stanley in the 22nd minute and putting home a header off a rebound 11 minutes later.

Jesuit’s other goals came after intermission by Carter Campbell (58th minute), Carson Bien (78th) and Alex Medina, which ended the match in the 80th minute.

“It’s great, especially to win 8-0 and come back from losing last year,” Rodriguez said. "It’s amazing to have an opportunity to go to state, and feel like this is the team."

Eau Gallie provided a change of scenery for Jesuit. For the first time in six years, the Tigers’ region final opponent wasn’t Merritt Island. Jesuit lost four of the five meetings to the Mustangs, including the past two on penalty kicks. Jesuit’s only win was a 2-1 overtime victory in 2016.

“A lot of the players wanted to play (Merritt Island),” Sims said. “But I think at this point, it became a mental thing for us. Not (facing) Merritt Island, it made it a lot easier for us.

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”The players were a lot more relaxed coming into the game. We’re a good soccer team, and if we relax and play soccer, then we’re fine."

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Related: Five girls soccer teams advance to state semifinals