TAMPA — Escaping Jesuit High with a win was just a little too much to ask Tuesday night.
Tarpon Springs' most successful season in nearly two decades came unglued on the neatly manicured FieldTurf of Corral Memorial Stadium.
Jesuit, a six-time state champion with lofty aspirations of acquiring another trophy, unleashed an offensive assault that never let up until the dominant 7-0 victory was finished. The Tigers (15-4-3) now move on to host a Class 3A region final against the winner of Tuesday's Auburndale-Merritt Island match.
The Spongers knew they were a heavy underdog heading into Tuesday, said first-year coach George Hourdas, so the loss shouldn't diminish any of this season's accomplishments.
“They had a great season and this is nothing to hang their heads about coming into this place,” he said about his team. “They took a pretty good beating, but this is a prominent program in the soccer community.”
Jesuit has now outscored its two Pinellas County playoff opponents – Dunedin and Tarpon Springs – by a combined score of 15-0.
Not only did the Tigers keep the Spongers off the scoreboard Tuesday, they didn't even allow a single shot attempt. Jesuit's 33-0 advantage in that category – 20-0 on goal – essentially tells the story of the match.
A silver lining to take away from that lopsided stat was the overall play of Tarpon Springs goalkeeper Vasilios Makryllos. The junior saved 14 shots during that near-constant barrage.
A big reason for that relentless pressure was Jesuit's stellar, skillful play in the midfield and defense. The Tigers repelled nearly every offensive moment attempted by Tarpon Springs before attackers Diogo Rodrigues, Kosta Pseftelis or Peter Kouskoutis could set up any clean looks.
What that meant was a lot of action for Tarpon Springs defenders.
“I'd say our defense did the best it could under the conditions it was faced with,” Hourdas said. “But up against Jesuit kicking the ball around at that pace, it was difficult to get our feet underneath us to play our game.
“Stefano Tsavaris, our sweeper, played a solid game. He kept his head in it and played well throughout. The whole defense, Tanner [Stocks] and Jonathan [Oliveira], they all were playing [Jesuit's] forwards to the best of their ability.”
Jesuit got on the board first in the 13th minute, courtesy of an own goal off Jacob Starnes' throw-in. The Tigers tacked on two more before the first-half water break and the rout was on from there.
Starnes scored Jesuit's second goal about seven minutes later and teammate Connar Lufkin eventually netted a pair during the win.
For Tarpon Springs, the Spongers left Jesuit knowing they notched the program's first postseason victory since 1996 and that an experienced roster is returning next year.
Sixteen of the Spongers' 20 listed varsity players are expected to be back in 2014-15.
20' – Jacob Starnes – Goal (Assist: Ian Gutierrez)
21' – Connar Lufkin – Goal
61' – Daryian Flories – Goal (Assist: Jacob Vila)
67' – Connar Lufkin – Goal (Assist: Harrison Astorquiza)
75' – Alejandro Cartaya – Goal