20 October 2010

Regional Champions

Last evening, I witnessed one of the best soccer games I have ever seen played between the St. Anthony Bulldogs and the Harrisburg Bulldogs for the Regional Final.

St. Anthony Coach Scott Demers sent out the following summary of the well-fought match (with my emphases and comments:

I'm not quite sure how to report the final score for the match. To simply put it, WE WON!!

We finished our regular season with one of the best records ever (8-4-5) For post season, we were seeded #3 and we faced #6 Altamont and won 1 - 0. We then faced the #2 seed, Mt. Carmel and won in double overtime (1-0). Tonight, we faced the #1 seed, Harrisburg, and yes, we won.

What a game. After 2 hours of play, over 45 shots (Harrisburg) against our 21 shots, 27 saves (Scott Deters) to their 8 saves, it all came down to penalty kicks [talk about pressure and unbelievable excitement and anticipation]and one kicker making his shot and one goal keeper making a great stop. A kicker 12 yards away from the goal against a goal-keeper. Harrisburg had their keeper, but we have Scott Deters [Scott's had an amazing season, and is a first-time keeper]. St. Anthony players that stepped up under intense pressure were Doug Field, Hayden Esker, Aaron Walters, Michael Kabbes, Alissandro Di Girolamo, Rory Woods, and Aaron Wall. They all made their shot. As in every win, it took the whole team to pull out a win. In this case, a dramatic upset.

Regulation (2-40 minute halves): Harrisburg (0) - St. Anthony (0)
Over time Periods 1, 2, 3, 4 (each 10 minutes) Golden Goal or Suden Death: Harrisburg (0) - St. Anthony (0)
Penalty Kicks: Round 1 (5 kicks each team) Harrisburg (5) - St. Anthony (5)
Penalty Kicks: Golden Goal (1st team that misses loses) Harrisburg (1) - St. Anthony (2)

St. Anthony wins by Penalty Kicks - Harrisburg (6) - St. Anthony (7)
St. Anthony is now 11 - 4 - 5
Sectional Semi-finals are Thursday 5:00 PM at Edwardsville Metro-East Lutheran
St. Anthony will face their toughest competition of the season against Rochester (seeded #1)

Game Commentary:

The first half began with both teams finding their way to getting shots on goal. But after 25 minutes of both teams testing each others defense, Harrisburg began to control more of the pace and conrtol the ball more effectively. Rahul Patel, Harrisburg central defender, was able to keep St. Anthony forwards out of scoring opportunities with great speed and positioning. But similarly, Nate Gray and St. Anthony goal-keeper, Scott Deters, were able to stop every Harrisburg attempt on goal. The first half ended with the score tied.

The second half also ended in a tie and was similar to the first half with the exception that Harrisburg took command of play and dominated possession of the ball and effectively putting the ball on goal. But, as in many games, St. Anthony's stellar goal-keeping and solid defense kept Harrisburg from getting uncontested opportunities to score.

There was a coin toss and both teams set up for 'Golden Goal' over time. Basically, the first team that scores, wins. Each Golden Goal period is 10 minutes long with teams switching sides of the field at the end of each period. At the end of four 'Golden Goal' periods, the score was still deadlocked at 0 - 0.

The next step to determine a winner is penalty kicks. Each team chooses 5 players that alternately take shots against the opposing team's goal keeper from 12 yards away. The first round ended with the score tied agains, 5 - 5. That leads to "Golden Goal' Penalty Kicks. The winner is decided when one team makes the goal and the opposing team misses. In the final round that was played, St. Anthony shot first and Harrisburg shot second.

During this stage of play, the players have played non-stop for 2 hours and now must face the opposition's goal-keeper in tight quarters. With pressure mounting, St. Anthony's Rory Woods, a junior, stepped up and found the net on his kick. Harrisburg's kicker likewise found the net on his shot. The score was tied 6 - 6 in penalty kicks. That's St. Anthony's leading scorer stepped up and blasted a shot past Harrisburg's keeper and that put great pressure on Harrisburg's next kicker. Before the referee set the play, Harrisburg shot and the missed wide. St. Anthony players rushed the field thinking they had won the match. But because the play had not been started by the referee, a 're-kick' was awarded. The Harrisburg player shot and Scott Deters, St. Anthony's Goal Keeper, guessed right and found the ball. He stopped the shot. St. Anthony won, 7 - 6 in Penalty Kicks.

With all of the drama, with all of the excitement, it all came down to nerves and composure. As in the 120 minutes of play, Scott Deters came up big, real big. If there was a most valuable player award, Scott Deters would get it. With 27 saves during regulation and overtime play, he made the difference and completed his 9th regulation shut-out.

"Harrisburg was a good team and they play a physical style of soccer that we haven't faced and the boys held up.

Our team's true character showed when we were able to shut them (Harrisburg) out and pull off a dramatic win.

St. Anthony coaches would like to recognize the great play of Michael Nosbisch, Ryan Willenborg, Nate Gray, and keeper, Scott Deters. We also should recognize those that stepped up and finished with a bang. Parents, let your sons know how great they are, they shoed it tonight.

Thank you all for your support. Our next big challenge is Thursday against Rochester. We play at 5:00 PM at Metro-East Lutheran in Edwardsville. See you there.

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