Winning a state title is difficult.
Repeating as a state champion is even more challenging.
Graduation can take away key players. Complacency can take hold. Anything can happen.
Jesuit’s boys soccer team knows.
The Tigers, one of the area’s most storied programs, has won seven state titles, second locally behind Clearwater Central Catholic’s nine championships. But only during a three-year stretch from 1997-99 was Jesuit to win those titles consecutively.
That was the task the Tigers faced after taking home the 5A title last season. Jesuit said goodbye to 16 players who graduated, including Carson Bien, the 5A state player of the year.
Losing that much talent off a roster would pose difficulties for any program. But Tigers always have reinforcements.
The newcomers filled in adequately. The holdovers took on bigger roles as leaders. The wins kept coming, so much Jesuit found itself in a familiar spot by making it back to Spec Martin Stadium in DeLand for Saturday’s 5A title match.
But the Tigers could not hold on to a first half lead, falling in overtime to Belen Jesuit 2-1.
In the first half, Jesuit took the lead on a goal from Ty Cabbasa. Belen Jesuit answered early in the second half on a header from Aidan Miles to tie the match.
It stayed that way through the end of regulation and one overtime period.
In the second overtime, the Wolverines converted on a second-chance ball off a free kick to take the lead.
Jesuit tried to rally but could not get a shot to fall through the net that would have tied the match.