Bobcats, Rams, Hornets advance to regional finals
Published: Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 12:19 a.m.
Although Buchholz and Jacksonville Mandarin had met three times previously, including for the District 1 title, the stakes were much higher Saturday night at Jonesville Soccer Complex.
And the Bobcats and Mustangs played like it.
Louis Allen's goal off a header from teammate Eric West in the 26th minute proved to be the difference and goalkeeper Hunter Patrick made two incredible saves in the second half as Buchholz beat Mandarin, 1-0, in the Class 5A, Region 1 semifinals.
The Bobcats (17-1-4) move into the regional finals for the first time since 2001 and will host Oviedo (16-1-3) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Jonesville Soccer Complex.
“To play Mandarin again for the fourth time this season, obviously we knew it was going to be tough,” said Buchholz coach Andy Aulick. “They came out prepared and were ready.”
A year ago, Mandarin beat Buchholz 3-1 in the regional semifinals en route to playing in the state final. The Bobcats, ranked No. 4 in the nation by MaxPreps, is hoping clearing this hurdle will lead to the state final.
“They are dangerous up top, that is where they really take pride in their team, so we had a big task,” Aulick said. “But my defense told me they were going to get a shutout and they did.”
A corner kick from Diego Fisher in the first half led to the game's only goal. West headed the kick in front of the Mustang goalkeeper Mark Darling and Allen sort of headed it into the net for a 1-0 Bobcat lead.
“It was kind of off of my neck and my head at the same time,” Allen said. “I was lucky in that Eric was able to get enough power into it that I could just head it into the back. It is all about teamwork.”
The Mustangs, who have outstanding forwards in Kacper Grzeszczack and Jeinson Gonzalez, were aggressive in their attacks but Buchholz was up to the challenge, blocking their paths and knocking away potential scoring runs.
In the second half, Mandarin had two bullet shots at Buchholz's goal, but Patrick was able to dart in front of each and block away the attempts.
“He has really grown up in the goal,” Aulick said. “He has really become much more confident and leading the team in the back. I was really proud of the saves he made, he really kept us in the game.”
“I had my feet moving, stayed warm during the half and was just able to get there in time,” Patrick said. “I stayed low to the ground. We had a great game on defense to keep that shutout.”
Oviedo, which beat Orlando Timber Creek 1-0 in overtime, reached the regional finals for the first time since 2000.
“This is a great feeling,” Allen said. “I really don't know what to say about my boys. We have been working for this all season, nothing but hard work and determination.”
CLASS 3A: At Inverness, Eastside defeated host Citrus 2-0 in a Class 3A, Region 2 semifinals.
Tyler Miller-Jones and Joseph Malu netted goals for Eastside (22-2-2), which hosts undefeated Land O'Lakes Sunlake in the regional final Tuesday.
Rams head coach Ron Messick credited the ‘Canes (10-6-4) and head coach Phil Journey for the job they did preparing for the match.
“With the young team we have,” Messick added, “to get to this point … it was a huge boost of confidence for us.”
- Citrus County Chronicle
CLASS 1A: At Mayo, sophomore Jose Diaz scored two goals and had an assist in leading Lafayette to a 4-1 win over Tallahassee Maclay in the Class 1A, Region 2 semifinals.
The Hornets return to the regional finals for the second straight season and will play at Maitland Orangewood Christian on Tuesday.
“This was a great win for the program,” said Lafayette coach Danny Glover.
“We knew playing Maclay again they would be ready for us, but the kids really responded. I challenged them to score early and they did.”
Diaz had two first half goals in the ninth and 39th minute. Junior Ismeal Moreno had one goal and two assists, and Nick Singletary had a second-half score.