Flyers Soccer Falls to Canisus in 2012 State Championship

Crusaders land first state championship in school history on Austin Zaepfel overtime goal.

If you live by overtime, you most assuredly will eventually fall by it.

The Chaminade soccer team has most assuredly lived by those extra time periods (and sometimes even more), forcing extra minutes in all but one of their playoff games in the 2012 postseason to get to the state championship game Sunday against Canisus at St. John’s University.

Whoever coined the term “sudden death” knew what they were talking about.

It hadn’t taken much time for the Crusaders to get on the board, a short pass to Kevin Armstrong just past the seven-minute mark in the first half.

But Chaminade was used to this sort of thing, making dramatic comebacks has been a staple of their playoff run.

Meanwhile, Canisus was able to take an additional 58 minutes off the clock, their defenders getting rebounds up and down the pitch, off heads, chests and even the backs of their heels.

Chaminade would need something else than just some late heroics this time.

“We were having some problems with our spacing in the midfield, we corrected it in the second half,” Flyers head coach Mike Gallagher said, changing the formation on the field to include three in the back while pushing another three forwards up front.

“I almost said to my assistants ‘you know, we should stay like that, but it’s a bit risky’.”

A handball in the box allowed senior forward Hunter Frey to score on a penalty kick to knot the score 1-1 and force overtime.

Yet again, the Flyers would not convert on at least four chances on Crusader goalkeeper Paul Burich.

“How many chances did we miss in the first overtime?” Gallagher asked afterwards, rhetorically. “That’s the weird thing about it. I think more than anything it was unlucky. We had enough opportunities to put it away in the first overtime and this game tends to come back and bite you when you miss your opportunities because there are so few and far between. It doesn’t matter who has more possession or shots, it’s what goes in.”

It wasn’t going in for the Flyers Sunday night, having failed to convert in four tries in the first 10 minutes of overtime, with John Leva missing twice, once hitting the crossbar and the other sailing just wide of the net.

Gallagher was quick to begin the process of putting the loss behind him, his second appearance in the state title game in the last 3 years, with a victory in 2010.

“Does it hurt? Yeah, of course it hurts but I’m happy with the group that we got as far as we got,” he said. “We were pressing and pressing and pressing because we had the extra guy up front, but you know, live and learn. Maybe next year we play that system.”

For the coaching staff of the Flyers it is a little easier to move on; after all, they have been here before, they know the feelings, raw as they are, but also that they will be back next year.

The harsher truth is reserved for the players; the juniors a bit less, more so the seniors. The reality in high school sports that your first time might be your only time; that you may only get one shot and a few precious seconds, a few feet left or right, make all the difference between glory and disappointment.

“We wanted to make history and that’s what we did today,” said Austin Zaepfel, who obtained the former, knocking the ball past Chaminade keeper Brian Westerman for the 2-1 score to give Canisus its first state title in the history of the school.

For the latter, the only balm is time.

1 2 OT 2OT F Chaminade 0 1 0 0 1 Canisus 1 0 0 1 2


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