Bloomingdale leads for much of the game, but loses 3-1 to Sunset, a team several Bulls acknowledge was simply better.
By MIKE READLING
Published February 27, 2004
FORT LAUDERDALE - The question was tossed out for all to hear but aimed directly at Bloomingdale coach Sam Isajar.
Do you think Miami Sunset is the best team you've faced this year?
Isajar was quick with his reply but not fast enough to beat goalkeeper Chris Sedlak and forward Tom Davison.
"Yes," said Sedlak, bent over untying his shoes.
"Without a doubt," was Davison's reply.
The two players then let their coach finish up the explanation as to why, but their point was clear: The 3-1 victory Sunset had just pulled off in the Class 6A state semifinal game at Lockhart Stadium was no fluke. The Knights know what they're doing.
"They had speed. They had skill. They knew how to make the perfect runs behind our lines of defense," Sedlak said later. "They were both physical and had good size. They had more talent on the field at every position than we did."
Bloomingdale (26-3) knew what kind of team it was going to take to beat Sunset.
It was going to be the squad that was able to move the ball smoothly, capitalize on scoring chances and show more fitness than its opponent.
The Bulls had all of those components. Sunset was just better in every area.
With three goals in the final 20 minutes against Sedlak, who is part of the pool of players the U.S. National team draws from, the Knights showed why they were the correct choice earlier this month to replace the Bulls atop the National Soccer Coaches Association poll.
Sunset (29-1) was thrown off balance in the 13th minute when Bloomingdale's Alex Muniz dribbled to the touchline and lobbed a perfect cross in front for David McClelland to head in but coach Jay Flipse urged his team to withstand what he figured would be the start of a Bloomingdale rally.
"If we weren't going to tie it in the first half I just wanted to go in one goal down," Flipse explained.
The Knights tightened down long enough to start the second half with a new mindset, finally solving Sedlak in the 60th minute to tie the game. At that point it was Bloomingdale hoping to survive what Flipse referred to as "the frenzy that comes after we score our first goal."
Osmany Hernandez earned his second goal in the 70th minute and then Luis Perea sealed the win eight minutes later.
As for the Bulls, they were left to pick up their belongings, pack their bags and untie their shoes. There were no tears, yelling or kicking of coolers.
They admitted they got beat by a better team and the players seemed resigned to the fact that, for three-quarters of the biggest game of the season, they were one goal better than a team that may be the best in the nation.
It's a place the Bulls hope to be someday. And now they know what it looks like when you get there.