Daytona Beach Seabreeze wins 3A boys soccer state title – Orlando Sentinel
The drought is over for Daytona Beach Seabreeze.
Franco Perez was responsible for both goals Saturday to help the Sandcrabs (23-1-2) claim its first boys soccer state title in more than two decades.
Seabreeze held off feisty Merritt Island (22-2-0) for a 2-0 win in the FHSAA Class 3A championship at Spec Martin Memorial Stadium in DeLand.
After dousing first-year coach Nathan Murphy with a water cooler, players gathered with members of Seabreeze’s back-to-back state title teams from 1992-93 in the corner of the field for celebratory photos.
“That was epic,” Murphy said. “The boys tried so hard and they put in blood, sweat and tears the entire game.”
The Sandcrabs altered its formation in the second half to slow the aggressive approach of Merritt Island. The move paid dividends as Merritt Island finished the match with a 17-10 advantage in shots after carrying a decisive 11-2 clip into the break.
The second goal of the match by Perez, his 42nd of the season, was a masterful display of skill with nearly 27 minutes left in the match.
The junior beat a defender when he took possession outside of the upper left corner of the 18-yard box, then unloaded a shot into the far right corner.
“We saw more spacing in the second half and came out and showed them we could hang with them, and possibly beat them,” said Perez, who finished with seven shots. “We kept pushing towards the end. That last whistle was brilliant for us and I can’t be anymore grateful.”
Seabreeze got some early assistance in taking a 1-0 lead 14 minutes into the match on a misplayed ball by Merritt Island.
A throw-in by Perez from the left side of the field sent the ball inside the 6-yard box towards a pair of teammates, where it bounced off the head of a defender and into the left corner for an own goal.
Seabreeze’s sophomore goalkeeper Cameron Bowling finished with five saves, one of which came while laying out on his right to halt a shot by Desmond Ramey.
“We’ve had a lot of people describing us as lucky this year and I think we just proved today that that’s not true,” Murphy said. “My boys have earned every second of it.”
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