TAMPA – Jesuit got a pair of first half goals from Stephen Gathman, and then held off a strong rally in the final 15 minutes, to defeat a Berkeley Prep side missing star striker T.J. Roehn 4-2 in both side’s regular season finale on Saturday evening at Newman Stadium.
Roehn was ejected for using a profanity in Berkeley’s game Wednesday night against Lakeland Jenkins, and is appealing the three-week suspension issued, but he saw his teammates start strongly on Senior Day as they pressed for an early goal. The Tigers (14-4-3) were able to weather the storm, though, and took the lead in the 13th minute as Gathman latched onto a through-ball and fired low into the right corner.
Gathman then struck again in the 26th minute, a defensive clearance by Berkeley being headed back forward by Jesuit’s Tyler Hartlage to Gathman, who controlled his shot well after it bobbled just as he drove it into the right corner.
Berkeley (9-8-3) had its chances to score in the first half, with Auston Chen shooting over the crossbar after being put through by Jordan Tannenbaum. Tannenbaum also had a good opportunity, but a nasty bounce as he was trying to shoot caused his effort to slice wide. Kevin Harvey also saw a header go over the crossbar after a good cross by Tannenbaum.
Those missed opportunities would hurt even more a minute before halftime as Joel Gutierrez stole in at the near post to flick home Joseph Metzger’s corner to make it 3-0 at the break.
“I thought the third goal was critical, because a 2-0 lead is always a dangerous lead,” Jesuit coach Bob Bauman said. “We has pretty much subbed all of our starters out by then, so for the last 15 minutes of the first half was bench, and we’ve been able to go to our bench this year and maintain a high level of play.”
Alex Moore added a fourth for the Tigers with 14 minutes to go, but then the Bucs rallied behind Theo Wells, who headed home from a Jake Felman corner in the 69th minute before scoring on a deflected shot a minute later.
Felman had a chance at a hat trick, but his shot with six minutes to go was brilliantly saved by Seth Drummond, who dove low to his left to turn the shot aside, allowing the Tigers to hold on. Wells said while getting his third, and setting up a big end to the game, would have been nice, the fact that the Bucs had rallied back without Roehn left the team feeling optimistic about its chances without their star.
“If we walked out of here with a 4-0 loss, it would have been hard,” Wells said. “I’m glad that without T.J. we got two goals, we rallied at the end, we got some momentum going into districts.”
Roehn would be eligible to return for the Class 3A-Region 3 final should his appeal be turned down, with the possibility he could be available for the region quarterfinals if it is reduced by a week. Berkeley coach Tim Cooper said he thought his side would miss Roehn, and would need other players to step up in his stead.
“It’s obviously a tough loss for us, not having T.J., he’s been 90, 95 percent of our offense,” Cooper said. “The guys know they’re going to have to step it up, and that’s what it’s going to come down to.”