For the third time in the past four seasons, Jesuit won the Champions League title for area boys soccer teams.
The bay area version of the Champions League is based on the popular tournament for professional club teams in Europe. The local event features the top high school teams from the Tampa Bay area in a tournament at the start of the season.
The Tigers, ranked No. 1 overall in the state and No. 2 nationally by MaxPreps, were the overwhelming favorite to win this year’s title.
But to keep its perfect record intact, Jesuit had to survive a thriller against St. Petersburg in the semifinals.
Tied 1-1 after regulation and overtime, the match went to penalty kicks. The Tigers (featured photo above courtesy of CreedPix Tampa) advanced after prevailing 8-7 in penalty kicks.
Patrick Wiley scored Jesuit’s lone goal in regulation off an assist from Abi Lindblom. The Tigers’ Phillip Falcon made two critical penalty kick saves and Dante Searls nailed his kick that proved to be the winner.
The Green Devils’ goal in regulation was scored by Nate Gavaghan thanks to an assist from Parker Brown.
In the final, the Tigers beat Sunlake 3-1. Wiley, Kai Rodrigues and Alejandro Vargas each scored. Rodrigues and Keegan Clamp also had assists.
The Seahawks’ lone goal was scored by Brian Novillo in the second half.
Rodrigues, who led Jesuit throughout the tournament, was named MVP.
The tournament also has a scholarship program called the Peek Family 12th Man Award, which gives $2,500 to the winner.
Each team in the Champions League submitted a candidate – someone who is “the heart and soul of their team.” It did not have to be a starter. A panel of three coaches representing the three-county area selected the winner.
Mitchell’s Dominic Gonzalez was this year’s recipient.