It was a cold afternoon in Deland, FL when our Wolverines faced off with the Jesuit Tigers from Tampa for the 5A Soccer State Championship on March 6th. It was the first time in state history both Jesuit schools battled each other for a championship. Fans from both schools made the trip to support their teams. Alongside the parents in the stands, were seniors who didn’t disappoint and supported the team the whole game.
“I am so proud of how our young men came together during the last 12 games of the season,” said Principal José E. Roca ‘84. “ They truly played as a team throughout that stretch constantly pressuring their opponents slowly wearing them down. Great teams always play the same way regardless of the level of their opponents.”
The first half of the game had our team down 0 to 1, but after an inspiring talk by Coach Tanger Mendonca, the team was ready to take the field with rejuvenated enthusiasm. Junior Matias Perinot scored the game-tying goal with only a couple of minutes left on the clock. The excitement was palpable at Spec Martin Memorial Stadium as the game headed into overtime. After the first 10-minutes of OT with no goals, the game went into the second overtime where junior midfielder Stefano Naos clinched the win for the Wolverines.
This is the second championship for Belen’s soccer program. The first was in 2016. The team was also named Winter State Academic Champion along with the basketball and wrestling teams.
“I’m incredibly proud of this team and the work they put in to win the championship,” said Coach Mendonca, who is in his 14th year of coaching at Belen Jesuit. “They played with everything they had and never quit. They attacked the goal until they scored and played with integrity. It was an unforgettable season and an experience I know we will all treasure.”
Belen Jesuit Preparatory School was founded in 1854 in Havana, Cuba by Queen Isabel II of Spain. The task of educating students was assigned to the priests and brothers of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), whose teaching tradition is synonymous with academic excellence and spiritual discipline. In 1961, the new political regime of Cuba confiscated the School property and expelled the Jesuit faculty. The School was re-established in Miami the same year, and over the next decade, continued to grow. Today, Belen Jesuit sits on a 30-acre site in western Dade County, only minutes away from downtown Miami.