You knew it had to come down to this, right? That there was no other way this 2012 season was going to end between Chaminade and St. Anthony’s on the soccer pitch. Not when the only times these two powerhouses met that it ended in 0-0 ties.
The Flyers could see it, watching from the gate off the track at the Mitchell Field Athletic Complex four days earlier, seeing how the Friars and St. John the Baptist had gone through both 10-minute overtime sudden-death periods, then two rounds of kicks before the Friars bolted towards the stands, paused in disbelief over a referee’s double-take then resumed their exuberance.
This is the way it has been in nine of the last 10 years, both Chaminade and St. Anthony’s meeting for the NSCHSAA title game, both entering Wednesday’s night title bout – you guessed it – tied with identical 4-4 records since 2003.
“We got all their PK kickers down,” Chaminade goalie and game MVP Brian Westerman would say of that Saturday night, watching the Friars and practicing them all through this past week. “I memorized them. Two of the kids went opposite directions, they got me and the (one) went the same way, I knew exactly where he was going, got it and the best game I ever played in my life. I’m lost for words, this is the greatest game I’ve ever played in my life.”
Westerman would have never gotten the chance however had it not been for center midfielder Kyle Walsh.
“He’s probably the biggest unsung hero on this entire team,” Westerman would say of his senior classmate. “He keeps the team together, greatest personality on the team. Doesn’t score many goals, he put the goal in the back of the net, easy. Great finish.”
In fact, up until Wednesday night, Walsh had not scored any in his varsity career.
With less than six minutes left in regulation, St. Anthony’s defender Brendan Reardon put a shot into the upper right-hand corner to send the Friars into a frizzy.
“At times I thought that it was over,” Walsh said. “I almost put my head down but then we kept pushing forward.”
Slowly, St. Anthony’s began to eat into the clock, with 54 seconds left, Saturday’s hero, John Leva, was able to get the ball to Walsh in front of the net.
“We all stepped forward, the ball came across… like we do everyday in practice,” Walsh said. “I stepped into it and I put it in the back of the net. It was my first goal on varsity and it came at the right time. That was the most amazing thing that could have happened at the certain time that it did. I put it across the net and I just saw it go in the back of the net and then I had the most amazing feelings ever.”
After two sudden-death penalty overtimes, it was the quartet of Ethan Ellsworth, James Brady, George Roumeliotis and Hunter Frey that scored for the Flyers to put them on top in penalties, 4-2. For St. Anthony’s it was Nicholas Cestaro and Reardon, who together with Kevin Mercadante, were named season MVPs.
“I would have said ‘no way, I haven’t scored a goal in 2 years on varsity, no way my first would be in the most important game of the season’,” Walsh said. “I’m speechless.”
Chaminade (12-3-5) now has won the league championship two times in the past three years and will move onto the state semi-finals against Molloy, which will be held Saturday at 7 p.m. at St. John’s University. It was the first league defeat for St. Anthony’s (15-3-2) in the 2012 season.
“You can’t get much better than that, he scores the goal of his career, he scores the goal that puts us through,” Chaminade head coach Mike Gallagher said of Walsh. “He’s been a guy that we relied on just to play possession and ball movement. If you would have given me a list of names, Kyle might have been the last guy, but, hey, it’s great he got in the box at the right time. Victory from the jaws of defeat, it can’t get any better than that, you can’t write a better script than that.”
Except maybe two more victories this season.1 2 OT1 OT2 PK Chaminade 0 1 0 0 4 St. Anthony’s 0 1 0 0 2