By Ken Jackson
Celebration’s boys soccer team earned its first time to Class 5A regional playoff semifinals since 2011 Wednesday with a 5-2 win over Vero Beach.
The Storm (14-2-4) host George Jenkins, a 1-0 winner over Jupiter on Wednesday on Saturday at 7 p.m. Celebration beat the Eagles by the same score, in overtime, in the District 5A-9 championship on Feb. 2.
Wednesday’s game was not as lopsided as the score indicated. Vero Beach (8-6-4) applied heavy doses of pressure in the first half. The game was tied 1-1 at halftime before Coach Chad Boudreaux adjusted the attack to come from the wings rather than the center of the field.
“We realized if we attacked from out wide we could find the holes in the middle, and we did,” he said. “We start off slow of late, and they brought it to us, thankfully we turned it on at the end.”
The adjustment worked — eight minutes into the half, Daniel Perez fed a perfect cross to Gabriel Pinheiro, which he met and buried, just like they indeed on the Storm’s first goal 20 minutes into the match.
That second goal gave Celebration a lead they’d never relinquish, and just seven minutes later, the score was 4-2 after Mel Rodriguez and Luis Mora added tallies on long runs through the defense. Anti Antunez added an insurance goal in the 67th minute.
Celebration last made it this far in the boys soccer playoffs in 2011, when the Storm advanced to the Class 5A Final Four and state tournament.