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TAMPA - Gaither advanced to the final of the Elite Bracket in the 12th annual Admiral Invitational with a 2-1 win against previously unbeaten Jesuit at Ed Radice Park on Thursday.
"Jesuit's a good team and this was a typical Jesuit-Gaither game," Cowboys coach Eric Sims said. "Our ultimate goal is to win state, but this is one of the biggest tournaments in the country and we feel good about making the finals."
Jesuit's loss comes on the heels of the Tigers' 4-0 thumping of previously unbeaten Satellite Beach on Wednesday.
"We played flat," Jesuit coach Bob Bauman said. "We have some young guys who haven't played in many big games and we need to learn to play with confidence at all times."
Fernando Gonzalez knocked in a rebound to give Gaither a 1-0 first-half lead and the Cowboys (11-0-2) extended it to 2-0 when Doug Cobb threaded a shot through traffic at the top of the 18-yard box.
"We've been stressing all year to them to follow their shots and (Gonzalez) worked hard to get that one," Sims said. "(Cobb's) was a great finish."
Jesuit (16-1) trimmed the lead in half on a goal from Hunter Clasen. Despite the loss and Gaither's 2-1 preseason win against Jesuit, Bauman held firm that the better team did not win Thursday.
"I know this will probably get me in trouble in the papers, but I believe that we're a better team," Bauman said. "We made some bad decisions and played some bad balls at our feet and Gaither did what it had to do to win."
Gaither faces Bellarmine Prep, a 1-0 winner against Seminole, today at 4 p.m. Jesuit meets the Warhawks at 2 p.m. in the consolation match. Berkeley Prep beat Land O' Lakes 3-2 in penalty kicks and plays Santa Margarita (Calif.) in the Premier Bracket's fifth-place match today at noon.