TAMPA – Jesuit twice held a lead against ESPN Rise No. 6 New Orleans Jesuit, but the Blue Jays scored three goals in the second half to rally for a 4-2 victory at the High School Soccer Classic at the Ed Radice Sports Complex on Saturday night.
The Blue Jays could have taken the lead in the first minute, when Patrick Culotta shot wide after a poor goal kick allowed him the chance at a goal. The Blue Jays squandered another pair of chances before the Tigers took the lead in the ninth minute, Chase Goodwin rising at the far post to head home Brett Durrance’s corner kick.
“When you think about it, they could have had, one, two, three in the first 10 minutes,” Tigers coach Bob Bauman said. “And we kind of weathered the storm, we come down and score.”
The Blue Jays, who won the ESPN Rise Winter national championship a season ago, continued to create chances, only to see them go begging. That changed in the 30th minute as a corner from the left was knocked down at the far post by Brandon Cohen, and Patrick Warwick stabbed a shot home from inside the 6-yard box.
The Tigers' energy remained high, though, and they continued to give as good as they took from the Blue Jays, and that was rewarded a minute before halftime. After a poor free kick from their half by the Blue Jays came straight to Tyler Hartlage, he fed a ball through to Durrance, who raced in alone on goal and finished coolly into the left corner of the net.
The Tigers’ lead didn’t last long into the second half as the Blue Jays tied the game off another corner four minutes into the second half, Alex Petrou scoring off a rebound from close in.
The Tigers could have retaken the lead shortly after Petrou’s equalizer, but saw Durrance’s free kick flick off the top of the defensive wall and go off the post, and a shot by Jordan Hayes turned around the left post by a good save.
The Blue Jays went ahead at the hour mark when Steven Cabos flicked a shot in with the outside of his right foot to make it 3-2. Cabos added his second with just under 10 minutes to go, but the wind had already been taken out of the Tigers’ sails.
New Orleans Jesuit coach Hubie Collins said he thought his side’s character was what made the difference.
“I think we just had to show our character in the second half, come out and show what we could do,” Collins said.
While he was disappointed his side hadn’t been able to pull off the upset, Bauman said he expected his side would learn from the game, and be better in their next outing.
“I think the biggest thing is we learned the difference between playing tentative and not to lose, compared to playing to win,” Bauman said. “We have some players who are bringing along their confidence level to play against a team of that caliber. So as we get these opportunities, which is a great opportunity like tonight, I think we’re going to learn from that and attempt to get better.
“I told this team from the first week on that the idea is we win our last game. That’s what matters to us. So if we get one percent better from tonight, we play another team at a higher level, then that’s a positive for us.”