JENSEN BEACH — The challenge for Jensen Beach’s boys soccer team Wednesday night was a familiar one hosting five-time state champion Gulliver Prep, the third straight season the Falcons had matched up with the Raiders in the postseason.
With the match going to extra time, junior Gavin Harte gave Jensen Beach the lead in the 86th minute but two quick strikes from Cosme Salas and Tomas Sciarra at the end of the first 10-minute period were enough to send the Raiders to the 4-4A semifinals with a 3-2 victory.
Salas blasted a free kick from well outside of 30 yards out that squared the match and Salas rocketed a right-footed effort that went in off the far post with a bit of controversy. The Falcon bench was right in front of the play and believed they saw a handball that resulted in Sciarra taking the ball down before striking the go-ahead goal.
“Most teams come in thinking they’re going to beat us, we’re a small school, we don’t recruit and all that other stuff,” Jensen Beach head coach AJ Diaz said. “Tonight, there were some unfortunate calls against us but that’s part of the game.”
As tough of a draw that the Falcons had as a seven seed in the region hosting the Raiders, who entered the state tournament No. 15 in the FHSAA rankings, Jensen Beach soaked in the pressure that Gulliver Prep put on them the entire first half.
With the two teams unable to break down the other, it took until the 65th minute for Gulliver Prep to break the seal.
A corner kick sent in by Salas wasn’t cleared by the Falcon defense and senior Enrique Mesejo was able to force the ball into the back of the net to put the Raiders ahead, but the lead for Gulliver Prep lasted not even a minute.
A ball sent into the Raider box by Jensen Beach’s Eduard Guerra took a deflection that came into the path of Harte clean on goal and the junior didn’t make any mistake from just blasting the ball into the back of the net to level the match.
In the first 10-minute period of extra time, Falcon defender Miguel Cerelli threw himself into the path of a shot on target from Sciarra that went over the crossbar that came just prior to Harte netting the go-ahead goal for Jensen Beach.
In the second session of extra time, Harte had a great opportunity to level the match again in the final two minutes as the ball came to him from well over 40 yards out and with Gulliver Prep goalkeeper Sonny Garcia well off of his line, but a long-range shot went wide right of the mark.
The result was a frustrating one for Jensen Beach as Gulliver Prep has knocked the Falcons out of the state tournament three consecutive seasons. The Raiders eliminated the Falcons in penalty kicks in a regional final in 2020-21 on their way to a state runner-up finish and last year got the better of Jensen Beach with a 2-0 win also in a regional quarterfinal.
Diaz credited his senior class for leading the way all season.
“We’re proud of our district championship this season, we’re proud of our effort tonight and we’re proud of our program and the direction it’s going in,” Diaz said.
Legacy Charter 2, St. Edward’s 1: A first-half goal from freshman Matthew Vatland in the 27th minute gave the Pirates a lead that they could not hang onto as Dakai Windsor’s goal midway through the second half sent the Eagles to the regional semifinals.
Vatland’s goal came off an assist from St. Edward’s junior Jah Jeune but Legacy Charter equalized in the 32nd minute through Javier Perez, who scored off an assist from Jake Green.
The Pirates finished the season with a 16-4-1 record.
Jensen Beach sophomore Brooke Vanetten became the first Falcon to win a girls wrestling district championship, taking the top spot at 115 pounds at Wednesday’s District 14-1A event at Wellington High School.
Vanetten pinned Wellington’s Lana Loucks at 1:14 of the first period for the Falcons.
South Fork junior Brianna Visocky finished as the runner-up at 130 pounds and Jensen Beach freshman Skyla Warriner also was a runner-up at 145 pounds.
Centennial 46, Jupiter 42: Ty Owens scored 18 points to help the Eagles (21-5) rally in the second half and reach the District 7-7A title game. Zach Brown scored 14 and Joseph Lezeau II added nine points for Centennial, who trailed at halftime 26-19.
The Eagles will take on second-seed Fort Pierce Central at 7 p.m. Friday with the game held at Palm Beach Lakes.
Fort Pierce Central 60, Treasure Coast 51: The Cobras (21-6) advanced to the District 7-7A championship for the second year in a row and will take on Centennial at 7 p.m. Friday at Palm Beach Lakes.
The Titans (18-7) will wait to see whether they will receive an at-large berth to the state tournament this weekend.
Martin County 74, South Fork 68: Elijah Duval scored a game-high 27 points and Brandon Brazell added 16 points to send the Tigers (16-8) to the District 8-6A championship game.
Martin County will travel to take on top seed Viera on the road in the district final on Friday at 7 p.m.
Satellite 57, Okeechobee 50
King’s Academy 64, John Carroll Catholic 46