By Ken Jackson
Humberto Faris’ goal eight minutes into overtime gave Celebration a 1-0 win over George Jenkins for the District 5A-9 championship Friday night at John Bushey Stadium.
Mel Rodriguez won a ball in the air, played it wide to Faris, who brought it back toward the middle and fired a right-footed laser into the top right corner of the goal, setting off a wild celebration that even the normally-reserved Storm Coach Chad Boudreaux got in on.
He said the score wasn’t indicative of two teams sitting back and playing defensive.
“Neither team sat back, both teams took it to each other,” he said. “It was a very exciting game.”
Celebration (13-2-4) will play Vero Beach (8-5-4), the runner-up in Friday’s 5A-10 final to Jupiter by an identical 1-0 score, on Wednesday in the Region 5A-3 quarterfinals.
The Storm dictated the first 10 minutes of the game, but the Eagles’ had the first-half’s best two scoring chances on penalty kicks. In the second half, Celebration goalie Alex Buttery broke up a Jenkins’ 2-one-1 opportunity. With less than a minute left, CHS could not convert on its own breakaway, sending the championship game to overtime, where the Storm won it.
Boudreaux said the win was a year in the making. The Storm, seeded No. 2 in the 5A-9 tournament last year and the undefeated Orange Belt Conference championship, was upset in the first round by Gateway. This year, Celebration again went 6-0 in the OBC and was the tournament’s top seed, but fell behind fifth-seeded Gateway, 1-0, with 20 minutes left in Wednesday’s semifinal before the Storm launched into passing gear and won, 4-2.
“I’m usually not emotional, but when Humberto hit that shot I ran out on the field and jumped in the huddle,” the coach said. “There was a little of last year’s emotion still in me, and this whole week has been high pressure. The kids knew the enormity of the situation (Friday).”