High School Sports

The Gulliver Prep boys’ soccer team pulls off another comeback to win Class 4A title

Know this about the Gulliver Prep boys’ soccer team.

If you’re beating them 2-0 at halftime and, even after they battle back to tie you, then re-take the lead late on them late in the game — they’ve got you right where they want you.

Just five days after battling back from an 2-0 halftime deficit on the road in a state semifinal at Orlando Bishop Moore, only to fall behind 3-2 late in the second half before rallying with two late goals to win — the Raiders did it all over again.

Only this time the stakes were even higher as a Jaime Perez-Bedmar goal with 5:46 left in the second overtime gave Gulliver a 4-3 victory against Cape Coral Mariner in a Class 4A state championship game on Thursday night at Spec Martin Stadium.

The win was the program’s sixth state title and first since 2014.

And just like the Bishop Moore game, even after the Raiders scored twice to tie the game, they fell behind again on a Mariner goal by Jason Arias with 13 minutes left.

The Raiders (15-7-2) were on life support, down to their last three minutes when senior forward Max Clivio came through. Clavio got to a loose ball down in front of the net on a pass from Perez-Bedmar and beating Mariner goalkeeper Junior Ochoa to th ball tying the game with 3:13 left.

The teams went at it hard during the first 14 minutes of overtime, each having multiple chances to score before Cole Ritzenathler got a deep pass down low that Perez-Bedmar knocked in for what would be the game-winner.

“All I know is when I saw the ball come in, I had to do whatever it took to get there and get a foot on it,” said Perez-Bedmar. “When it went in, it was an unbelievable feeling. All we know how to do is keep battling. There is no quit in us and there wasn’t tonight.”

With their noisy fan base screaming and going nuts, the Raiders played lockdown defense over the final 5:46 to secure the win before spilling on to the field in mass celebration.

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“What a resilient bunch of kids who deserve all the credit for finding a way to do this again just five days after they did it last weekend,” said Gulliver head coach Chris Bart-Williams. “The speech at halftime was pretty easy. Even though you don’t necessarily want to be down two goals, I simply told them that we knew how to do this. To just try and get a quick goal when we came out in the second half and that would get us back in it.”

They listened and did they ever score quick. Just 36 seconds in, Octavio Jalife beat his defender down in the corner and centered a pass to senior forward Sebastian Paz down low who flicked it with his right foot into the net. Paz scored a second goal 15 minutes later that got the gam tied at two.

“That first one was just as important as the other three because it got us right back into the game immediately,” said Paz who scored three of his team’s four goals in the comeback win over Bishop Moore as well. “Coach told us at halftime that we know how to do this but he didn’t have to say anything. After we did it in Orlando last week we knew we could do it tonight. That’s just how this team is made up. We fight, fight, fight and never quit.”

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