Commentary

Jesuit continues quest for No. 1

Updated: December 24, 2009, 12:16 PM ET
By Nicholas Murray | Special to ESPN RISE

TAMPA, Fla. -- No. 5 New Orleans Jesuit won the 16th High School Soccer Classic, defeating No. 24 Melbourne in a penalty shootout 4-3 after the two teams had played to a 1-1 tie in regulation.

Brian Barbera's goal in the fifth round of the shootout sealed victory for the Blue Jays, who got a pair of saves by tournament Defensive MVP Joe Hart. Jesuit had taken a third-minute lead through Alex Petrou, but the Bulldogs tied the game in the 30th minute through an own goal caused by an aggressive run by Callum Wilson.

Wilson was strong throughout the tournament, and with the Blue Jays defense paying close attention to fellow forward Ryan Price, he was unlucky not to find the scoresheet in the final, twice hitting the crossbar in the first half. Defensive adjustments reduced the number of scoring opportunities in the second half, which led to the Blue Jays' victory in the shootout.

SURPRISE PACKAGES

Orlando Bishop Moore -- Drawn against Tampa Gaither and Tampa Prep in pool play, noone gave the Hornets much thought, but some excellent defensive work led by Alex Icardi and Phil Shafer, and a timely quarterfinal goal by Steven Taylor allowed Bishop Moore to reach the semifinals.

Clearwater Countryside -- Without head coach Dave Sica and players Nikolai Hammer and Kyle Eichof, all absent due to red cards received the night before the tournament began, the Cougars were up against it after falling 2-1 to Orangewood Christian in their opener. They bounced back to advance into the semifinals, defeating rival Palm Harbor University 4-2 in the quarterfinals.

Land O' Lakes -- The Gators got past a good Montverde Academy team in pool play thanks to Tim Falcon's goal before falling to Bishop Moore in the quarterfinals. A squad that contains only seven seniors, and junior and sophomore players with good club experience, could be one to watch for later this season.

STANDOUT PLAYERS

Steven Cabos, M/F, New Orleans Jesuit -- The tournament's offensive MVP was often thrilling to watch, scoring six goals that included a hat trick against Tampa Sickles in the quarterfinals.

Claude Daigler, F, Orlando Bishop Moore -- Scored what proved to be the game-winning goals against both Tampa Gaither and Tampa Prep in pool play for the Hornets.

Pedro D'Avila, M, Orlando Dr. Phillips -- Quick and creative, the junior was key to the Panthers' comeback against Mitchell in pool play and his side's advancement to the quarterfinals.

Gil Davis, D, Tampa Sickles -- Was a stabilizing presence at the center of defense for the Gryphons as they recorded a pair of shutouts to advance to the quarterfinals.

Joe Hart, GK, New Orleans Jesuit -- Won the tournament's defensive MVP award, and made a number of impressive saves, including two in the championship game shootout, to help the Blue Jays to victory.

Austin Jurado, D, Tampa Jesuit --Jurado and the Tigers defense couldn't hold off a brilliant New Orleans Jesuit attack, but his speed and tenacity warranted a place on the All-Tournament team.

Jagger Martinez, D, Clearwater Countryside -- Martinez was Mr. Versatility for the Cougars, switching seamlessly from defense to attack as his side required, picking up a pair of goals against Palm Harbor in the quarterfinals.

Ryan Price, F, Melbourne -- Was outstanding not only in front of goal, but also with his back to the net, holding up play and creating opportunities for his teammates. His hat trick in the final 20 minutes against Seminole was a display of clinical finishing.

Ben Sweat, F, Palm Harbor University -- Scored three goals in three games, and with his pace and power almost led a great comeback with younger brother Austin against Clearwater Countryside in the quarterfinals.

Callum Wilson, F, Melbourne -- Powerful presence was the perfect foil to Price, his bustling play deserved to be rewarded with a goal in the final instead of hitting the crossbar twice.

THEY SAID IT

"I felt we were in control of the game, but obviously it doesn't always help you score."  Melbourne's Callum Wilson on hitting the crossbar twice in the championship game.

"You know, on paper last year we were ranked No.1 in the nation, and (Melbourne) was ranked No.2, so from that end of it we were saying 'let's go to an event like this so we can really see how good we are on the field'. I think from that end of it I think it says a lot about these young men, about their character to come down here for five days before Christmas to come here and come out as champions."  New Orleans Jesuit coach Hubie Collins.