SEMINOLE ― After watching his team survive more than a few close calls in the first half of Wednesday night’s Class 5A region final against Naples Lely, Seminole coach Rick Masi had a message for his team. He wanted them to continue defending well and eventually the offense would break the scoreless tie.
Instead, a couple of defensive lapses, along with a couple of bad breaks, resulted in a 2-1 loss to the Trojans. Fifth-seeded Lely (22-5-2) will play in Saturday’s state semifinal against Pembroke Pines Charter. Seminole, which was the second seed in its region, ends its season 20-6-1.
“We survived a blood bath in the first half,” Masi said. “We defended with a passion. We didn’t do that in the second half. So I think they ultimately deserved to win that game.”
In the first half, Lely had a shot clank off the cross bar, another taken off the goal line by defender Cole Carr and two more thwarted by good saves from goalkeeper Shane Dever. Seminole’s only real chance came in the 25th minute when Joey Reichert had a shot saved.
Then came the game’s first goal in the 54th minute. Lely’s David Gomez settled a pass 25 yards from goal and was able to get off a clear shot. His left-footer took an odd bounce and sailed over a diving Dever for a 1-0 lead.
“On that goal, he shouldn’t have had all that time on the ball,” Masi said. “He had a ton of space. We were just ball watching.”
The Trojans continued to loiter in front of the Seminole goal. There were five more near-misses in the nine minutes after the goal as Seminole struggled to regain offensive possession. But in the 65th minute, momentum started to change. Griffin Prestipino and Reichert each had shots saved.
Then in the 68th minute, Lely attempted to clear a ball in front of its goal, but Reichert was able to get a foot on the ball and redirect it from 5 yards into the open net. The celebration lasted only about 30 seconds.
Just after the goal, Gomez struck again. He was able to pull off a bicycle kick 5 yards in front of the goal that lined into the lower left corner for what turned out to be the game winner.
“He shouldn’t have had time to do that,” Masi said. “We don’t normally do that.”
There was one more bit of bad luck for the Warhawks before the game ended. In the 78th minute, Logan Siragusa launched a shot from 20 yards after a corner kick that hit squarely off the left post and bounded out of play. Seminole wasn’t given another chance and Lely was able to run out the clock.
“That’s unlucky,” Masi said. “We knew they were going to come hard and pressure us. They knew it but we lost our shape and composure. Every time we lose a game I always think what could I have done better. Maybe I should have put in some more fresh legs in the second half.”
State boys soccer semifinals
Games at 7 p.m. Saturday.
6A: No. 2 Mitchell at No. 1 Niceville
5A: No. 4 Jacksonville Stanton at No. 1 Jesuit
3A: No. 1 Jacksonville Bolles at No. 1 Tampa Catholic
2A: No. 5 Doral Divine Savior Academy at No. 1