MELBOURNE - Fleming Island junior forward Reed Davis has gotten used to being the hero and Friday’s state semifinal game against Melbourne High proved no different with Davis ending a 1-1 tie after …
MELBOURNE - Fleming Island junior forward Reed Davis has gotten used to being the hero and Friday’s state semifinal game against Melbourne High proved no different with Davis ending a 1-1 tie after 80 minutes of regulation time and 9:47 of overtime before burying the go-ahead goal for a 2-1 win and a ticket to the Class 4A championship game in Deland on Sat., Feb. 18 against Doral High of Miami.
“Oh man, I was trying to chip it over the wall, but they deflected it and put it right in front of me,” said Davis, who has recorded two game-winning goals in the Golden Eagles’ three region games up to the Final Four and now has 49 goals for the season. “I just took the ball and hit it. It was so fast.”
Fleming Island Golden Eagles (22-1-2) vs. Doral Academy of Miami Firebirds (24-2-1)
Doral: losses to St. Thomas Aquinas, 2-1, Nov. 14; Tie with Mater Academy Charter (Hialeah Gardens) 2-2, Dec. 19; Loss in double overtime Reagan High (Doral) 1-0 in district 16-4A championship game.
Regions: beat South Broward (Hollywood) 2-1; Reagan (Doral) 3-1; Fort Lauderdale 4-1, Venice 6-1.
History: Region appearances 2005-2009, 2012, 2014. No Final Four appearances.
Fleming Island: loss to Tallahassee Leon 3-1, Jan. 13; Ties to Tallahassee Chiles 2-2, Nov. 25; Creekside 1-1, Nov. 29.
Regions: beat Fletcher OT, 3-2; Creekside 2OT, 2-1, Leon 3-2, Melbourne OT, 2-1.
History: Region appearances 2004-2016; region semifinalist 2016; 4A champions 2012, 4A runnerup 2014, Final Four 2008, 2011, lost to St. Thomas Aquinas both times.
Fleming Island, with region wins over Fletcher (overtime, Trevor Broadbridge game-winner at 6:42), Creekside (double overtime, Davis game-winner at 6:08) and Tallahassee Leon (no overtime, but Davis gamewinner at 3:39), has learned, or persisted enough, to overcome early opponent goals to set up the dramatic finishes.
Melbourne was not different.
In the first half, Fleming Island opened the attack with the first two goal shots of the game to apparently set up the Melbourne defense for a long night in their end of the field.
At 34 minutes, Broadbridge to Mark Suhrer deep into the Melbourne defense set up a scrum with Alex Cruz and Davis crashing into Melbourne goalie Matt Bryant to create a pileup in front the net and a soccer ball sitting on the pitch for what seemed an eternity. Bryant finally cleared the ball to thwart the effort.
As the game progressed, officials were determined to keep the rough stuff to a minimum with plenty of free kicks awarded, but none being productive on both sides.
Near the 25 minute mark, Melbourne started exacting some offense deep into Fleming Island territory with three throw-ins from inside the 15 yard line, but Fleming Island goalie Omar Zermeno was up to the task with timely deflections.
Just after the 20 minute water break, Melbourne broke the ice with a long corner kick floating in front of Zermeno before Melbourne attacker Dylan Moreira spun and kicked the ball into the left side of the net.
Fleming Island continued to assault the Melbourne defense with Cruz missing with a hard laser from 25 yards out and Davis getting in deep, but Melbourne’s defense turning him away inside the goal box.
A free kick from Noah Hamlett at the Melbourne 35 and left of center of the goal went directly to the goalie.
At the four minutes to go mark, Fleming Island missed three scoring opportunities via corner kicks as Murphy’s service kicks were off the mark three times.
“I chewed them out a bit at halftime because they were doing stupid stuff out there,” said Fleming Island coach Frank Pontore. “I was more disappointed that they (Melbourne) were pushing and shoving and we were not returning. Our philisophy is to go until they blow the whistle. Be competitive out there.”
In the second half, both goalies continued to be heroic in front of their respective nets with Zermeno halting a Melbourne shot with a diving left hand stab near the 32 minute mark.
“I just had a good night,” said Zermeno. “I had to prepare right and make up for some bad balls in the previous games.”
At the 26:53 to go mark, off a handball free kick call, Murphy set up a free kick from right center of goal about 35 yards out that bent right to left to the head of striker Andrew LaBelle in front of the net and behind the defensive wall that he buried into the right side for the 1-1 tie score.
Zermeno again rejected a quick retaliatory strike from Melbourne and held court as the clock ticked down.
“My guys in front of me were in great position throughout the night so I had good vision on the attack,” said Zermeno.
At the 15 yard line, with 12:33 left in the game, Suhrer tried to split two defenders and got hammered to the ground to set up a free kick in prime position. Fleming Island tried a set play to set up Suhrer taking the ball deep, but the resultant corner kick failed.
At 6:40, Murphy sliced behind the Melbourne defense, Cruz lofted a lead pass over top and Fleming Island appeared to score the go-ahead goal.
Offsides. Overtime on the way.
At 4:26, Davis missed on a left of center drive, but Fleming Island kept the attack coming.
At 1:03, Murphy had a head ball over the Melbourne cross bar as the Golden Eagles’ attempted a final flurry.
At :23, Murphy found Cruz squeezing between two Melbourne defenders and the speedy front-runner gapped up, but was tripped up from behind to set up Davis’ game winner with 13 seconds on the clock.
As Fleming Island set up the left-center free kick, Davis bashed the left side defender in the chest with the ball causing a rebound left of the goal that Davis deftly grabbed and reshot between the outstretched right leg of a defender and goalie Bryant.