18 October 2009

The end of a season

Regular readers of these pages will be familiar with my involvement with the soccer team at St. Anthony high school, which began a few years ago.

At the time, I used Tuesdays as my "day off". One Tuesday afternoon I happened into the high school office to drop something off as the soccer team was about to leave for a game about an hour away. One of the boys saw me and asked, "Are you coming to the game with us, Father?" Since he knew I had nothing else to do that day, how could I refuse?

From that question one thing led to another and before I knew it the boys told me I was their "assistant coach," even though they knew I knew very little about the game and nothing about coaching. Since then I've learned a little bit about soccer.

This year's soccer season started off with a great boost of morale to the team with the addition of a new coach, Coach K, who brought with him a new confidence and enthusiasm to the team. Yet after coaching the team for only a week and a half he collapsed on the field at practice and died of heat exhaustion.

His coaching method revolved around a focus of the basics of the game, as I noted in the homily I preached at his funeral liturgy.

The experience of Coach K's death brought the team together in a most profound way, as only the experience of death can do. I was privileged to be there with them that night and to pray with them and journey with them through the season, and for a short time I became, by default, their coach, with the capable and necessary assistance of a few alumni.

We soon found a new coach for the team, Scott Demers, who has proved an excellent fit with the boys. I cannot thank him enough for all that he has done for them. Once he became the coach, I happily reverted to the "assistant."

Scott coached the team to the second round of regionals and submitted the following report on yesterday's game at Olney:

The St.Anthony High School Soccer Team made it to the second round of Regional play against Mt. Carmel after defeating Olney this past week. And as the Olney, East Richland match ended in the third suden-death overtime, today's match ended in similar fashion.

St. Anthony started the scoring with an early goal by John Kay on a feed from Riley Wesendorf at the 4:50 minute mark. St. Anthony scored again when Riley Westendorf passed to Michael Kabbes who drilled a shot past the Mt. Carmel goalie at the 25:24 minute mark.

The scoring favored St. Anthony for five minutes when Mt. Carmel was awarded a penalty kick on a questionable call. Mt. Carmel forward, Pete Condol, converted the penalty kick and that made the score 2 -1 in favor of SAHS. Then in the 39:40 minute mark, Gabriel Tennis of Mt Carmel scored on a misplayed ball by the Bulldog defense and tied things up.

Fans that attended the Regional match in Olney saw both teams not allow a goal for the entire second half and two over-time periods. The SAHS Bulldogs attempted 26 shots in which the Mt. Carmel goal-keeper made 14 saves. Mt. Carmel attempted 19 shots and the SAHS goalie made 14 saves.

It was in the third, sudden-death overtime period that Mt. Carmel ended the match on a shot by Armand Brisard which found the back of the net. Despite being dominated by the Bulldogs, Mt. Carmel players never gave up. St. Anthony had many scoring chances that weren't converted and continued to give the Golden Aces of Mt. Carmel a chance to stay in the match.

SAHS coach, Scott Demers, stated, "If we could have scored on effort, we won by a lot. But, it's goals that count." SAHS defender, Nate Grey, was a player that "left it all on the field." Grey played with a bruised knee that made it difficult to walk but somehow was able to perform exceptionally during game-play. Other players that went above and beyond the call of duty were Michael Nosbisch, Josh Wall, Charles McGuire, Cody Sandschafer, and all of the substitutes that kept pressure on Mt. Carmel throughout the entire match.

"The Mt. Carmel Golden Aces were in the right place at the right time too many times and they took advantage of their opportunities, our hats go off to them," said SAHS Coach, Scott Demers. SAHS would also like to thank all those that made the long trek to Olney to support the Bulldogs, especially the players from Teutopolis.
Overall, the boys played notably better than they ever played last year and have greatly improved. I am certain this is due, in no small part to two things. For much of the season the boys played their games for the team but for Coach K. And after my transfer to Virden and Girard they played their games for me.

I am immensely proud of all they have accomplished this season, and am certain Coach K would be equally proud.

Well done, boys, well done!

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