22 October 2010

A season ended

The Rochester Rockets defeated the St. Anthony Bulldogs 2-1 in last night's sectional match in Edwardsville. It was a game well-fought by both sides.

Bulldogs coach Scott Demers summarized the game thus, with my emphases and comments:

In 2006, St. Anthony faced Rochester in Sectional finals and the game went to penalty kicks. St. Anthony lost in 2006 and although the SAHS Bulldogs have played their share of overtime periods and won the Regional Title against Harrisburg in penalty kicks, they were hoping to win in regulation this time around.

In every competition, there is a winner, and there is a loser. Today, St. Anthony closed a great season that brought them to the 'Sweet Sixteen' for just the second time in program history and one of the best season records of 11-5-5.

St. Anthony did their best. They kept a good team out of the goal, but Rochester was able to beat St. Anthony on set plays, 2 goals, both corner kicks.

The first half began with Rochester hitting the ball into the corner of the spacious Metro-East Lutheran High School field (80 x 120 yards). St. Anthony defenders worked the ball forward but lost the ball on an intercepted pass and that began Rochester's offensive push. From the beginning of the game and through half-time, Rochester was able to control the ball and the game. But, not until the 20th minute, were they able to find a crack in St. Anthony's 'Iron Curtain' defense and put one in the goal. Rochester was awarded a corner kick when a St. Anthony defender cleared the ball across the goal line.

Rochester played the ball just outside the goal box area (a 6 x 20 yard box in front of the goal). St. Anthony defenders moved to play the ball out but a Rochester forward moved to the ball, struck it, and it hit SAHS keeper, Scott Deters in the face. The ball ricocheted and Rocket midfielder, Lucas Brubaker, hit the rebound into the back of the net. Tested by many tough matches, the SAHS Bulldogs were not ready to give up. Just six minutes later, in the 26th minute, Aaron Wall took a pass from Ryan Willenborg, who played in various positions throughout the match. A-Wall rocketed the ball past an out of position Rochester goal-keeper to equalize the game 1 - 1.

The St. Anthony Bulldogs made adjustments and seemed to gain momentum against a tough Rochester midfield and defense. "Rochester midfielders were able to keep us out of their half until we switched a couple of our guys in the middle and changed our strategy." Despite the changes and more scoring opportunities, the Bulldogs were shutout the second half and the Rochester Rockets scored again in the 23rd minute on yet another corner kick. The rest of the game saw St. Anthony moving the ball very well but when they got near scoring range, the Rochester defense closed in and cleared the ball.

"We never gave up. We played as hard as we could until the final whistle blew." [That's very true; I was quite pleased to watch the boys play to the end.]

St. Anthony was the 'underdog' and were playing against a more experienced, more physical squad, bias officiating [it always baffles me when I see officials not making even calls, especially at such a high level game; last night it was quite apparent], and the ever present winding down clock. But despite all that was against them, the SAHS Bulldogs never gave up and in the last 10 minutes saw at least 4 scoring opportunities that were within inches away from the back of the net.

"When you have competitors like Nate Gray, Doug Field, Aaron Wall, and Scott Deters, you have a chance to win any game."

SAHS Coaches would like to recognize the 2010 Regional Champions, the St. Anthony Bulldogs, all 34 of them. Thank you for a great season and a great run towards State Tournament.

The St. Anthony Soccer Team expect to have 26 returning players next year with some additions yet to be realized [about 1/4 of the boys in the school].

"With the core of players we have that are returning, we will be fighting to bring home the Regional and Sectional Titles to the SAHS Trophy Case next year."
Congratulations, Bulldogs, on a season very well played! Keep up the good work next season!

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