Celebration soccer coach Chad Boudreaux says his team “refuses to lose.”
In Wednesday’s Region 5A-3 championship, they proved it.
After surrendered a deflating overtime goal, the Storm roared back to tie Lake Worth Park Vista 2-2 before advancing 4-2 on penalty kicks to defend its regional title.
Winners of 16 straight and unbeaten in their last 19, Celebration (21-1-2) will now travel to Miami today to take on Miami Varela (14-3-3) in the state semifinals. The winner will take on the winner of Lake Mary and Lakewood Ranch on Feb. 23 at Spec Martin Stadium in DeLand for the championship.
An error by standout goalie Horacio Parisi almost ended the Storm’s season prematurely. After the teams battled to a 1-1 tie in regulation, Parisi made a routine stop of a slow moving ball delivered in the box. While attempting to roll the ball to a teammate on the left, the ball slipped out of Parisi’s hands sideways and trickled to the feet on an unguarded Andrew LeBrac, who slammed the ball past Parisi for a 2-1 lead.
“Horacio has been so good for us all season and I would have hated to see our season end on a mistake like that,” Boudreaux said. “To his credit he owned the mistake, kept his head up and made some huge plays at the end. Obviously, we were having trouble solving their defense but our kids kept fighting.”
Trailing 2-1 in the second overtime period, the Storm had a chance for an equalizer but Cobra goalie Daniel Matthyse stopped a Fernando Abreu penalty kick. Four minutes later, however, the Cobras were again called for a penalty inside the box but this time Luis Mora converted the penalty shot to level the game at 2-2.
Parisi would get his redemption. With 17 seconds left he made a sensational save off a blast by Sabastian Sangotti to send the game to penalty kicks. He would then stop shots by LeBrac and Luke Ferrazou and then watch as teammates Mora and Samuel Carcaioli Bonin converted, as the Storm took a commanding 2-0 lead in the penalty kick phase. In the fourth round of the best of five, Abreu converted to give Celebration the clinching 4-2 margin.
The Storm opened the game by taking a 1-0 lead. Jose Mourna-Neto made a nifty move to get by two defenders and then delivered a quick one-touch pass to Matuck Machado, who found the back of the net at 29-minute mark. But Park Vista would answer 15 minutes later, leveling the game on Sebastian Sagnetti’s goal.
“They were a really good defensive team,” Boudreaux added about the Cobras, who finished their season at 9-4-6. “We have a lot of things going on right now emotionally. We lost a starter to a fractured knee cap and the team found out one of our player’s mother is dealing with cancer. Add six games —including two overtime contests — in 13 days and we are an emotionally drained team. But these guys are a group of fighters, so we will get ready for another tough challenge on Saturday.”