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Three-peat: Long Beach clinches 5A boys soccer title with 1-0 win over Lafayette

Alexander Mink found the goal just after halftime to lift the Bearcats to their third title in three years

BRANDON — It was a three-peat for Long Beach.

After dominating the first half with nothing to show for it, the Bearcats got an early second half goal to get past Lafayette 1-0 to claim their third-straight MHSAA Boys Class 5A State Championship at Brandon’s Bulldog Stadium on Saturday night.

It was the sixth year in a row the Bearcats played for the title, and the was also the third state title in school history.

“Excited to be here once again and we knew they had a really good team and it was going to be tough, so we’re pleased with the outcome,” said Long Beach coach Andee Blaine Wilburn. “Every year it seems when we get to this game we’re going to be outsized and we practiced a couple of new set pieces this week and one of them worked.”

Long Beach (16-2-3) had eight shots on goal in the first half, and none found the net. Lafayette only could manage two shots on goal in the first 40 minutes.

Two minutes into the second half, Alexander Mink scored on a header off a corner kick for Long Beach to give the Bearcats the 1-0 lead.

“We were trying to take advantage of us actually being up here and working on a couple of set plays and one of them paid off. I felt the 10 minutes everyone was playing with nerves, but for us it’s about moving the ball quick and getting up field,” Wilburn said. “How we play defensively we look like at ways we can take him away and we did that for the most part, but it was a nail biter at the end. The seniors experienced the last loss we had in this state title game and to win three in a row takes a lot of hard work and has a lot to do what happened the first three years.”

Mink was named the player of the game. The Bearcats finished with 11 shots on goal.

“Once we got our nerves out we finally took control and it led to our attack.,” Mink said. “We’ve been practicing that set where they hit it back post and I go up for a header and when I saw go in it was pure joy. We knew who their strong players were coming and me and the center back have a strong chemistry together and that helped us pull through. Feels great to win three in a row and shows how hard it is to get here.”

Lafayette didn’t record a shot on goal in the second half. The Commodores (18-6) were in the 5A state title game for the first time in school history.

“We knew it was going to be a close, physical game and we knew it was going to be a goal on a set piece and it just wasn’t ours,” said Lafayette coach Gene Anderson. “We had a couple chances on corners earlier and didn’t go our way. They did a good job defensively and I’m glad we broke the seal to get to this point and have a good chance the next two years with reclassifications.”