CBy Oscar Matos ’18
Chaminade’s varsity soccer team took on a red-hot Kellenberg team on Thursday, October 29 for the right to face St. Anthony’s in the league finals. The Flyers have been consistently strong all season, amassing a regular season record of 14-2-2. The Firebirds, however, started their season off slowly but gained momentum in recent weeks, tallying 15 goals in their final four wins of the year.
The top-seeded Flyers dominated the time of possession early on, utilizing crisp passes and smart decisions to keep the Firebird defense on its toes. Surprisingly, this calculating, methodical style of play was soon scrapped in favor of a more aggressive approach. Chaminade began playing at a faster pace, taking more shots on goal and forcing the Firebirds out of position to help create favorable opportunities for the offense.
This strategy paid dividends when Matt Vowinkel ’17 scored his first goal of the postseason with a seventh-minute strike from eight yards out.
The Flyers remained relentless, forcing Kellenberg into an ill-advised pass less than 30 seconds after taking the lead. They took the ball back into Kellenberg territory, an area that became very familiar in the first half, and Vowinkel soon assisted teammate AJ Codispoti ’17 on a goal that was shot from just outside of the box.
Chaminade then slowed the tempo and waited for an offensive opportunity to present itself. It did, and Vowinkel capitalized by scoring his second goal of the game, increasing the lead to 3-0 after just 22 minutes.
While Chaminade did a fantastic job of controlling the ball and keeping it away from the Firebirds in the first half, the speed of the game made a few miscues unavoidable. Nevertheless, each and every Firebird counterattack was rendered futile by goalkeeper Yanni Rigos ’17. He made several astounding saves and was the unquestionable leader of the Flyer defense in the first half.
Declan Maloney ’18, who came out to cheer on the Flyers, said, “The offense performed really well in the first half. Everyone was playing really hard, and I’m interested to see if they can keep up this level of intensity.”
As play resumed after the half, the game plan was to keep the ball away from the opposition as much as possible, make smart passes, and coast into the final buzzer with a win.
Throughout much of the half they accomplished this, and it seemed as if the time in the Firebirds’ season was running out. Then something clicked for Kellenberg, and the offense that seemed to be simply going through the motions for most of the game suddenly sprung to life.
Kellenberg’s Joseph DelGiorno ’16 netted a goal in the 62nd minute, making the score 3-1. This seemed to light a fire under a Chaminade team that had been somewhat sluggish for much of the second half, and the momentum soon swung back in Chaminade’s favor. With both teams fighting harder than ever for the right to play St. Anthony’s in the title game, the score remained 3-1 until Ray Minewiser ’17 of Kellenberg scored on a penalty kick to bring the score to 3-2 with 10 minutes to play.
With the Firebirds fighting to even up the score and Chaminade attempting to cling to its slim lead for just a few more minutes, tensions ran high at Mitchel Field. By clearing the ball and playing generally stout defense, Chaminade managed to withstand a late flurry of desperate attempts by Kellenberg to tie the game. Time ran out, and the Flyers had managed to defeat their Marianist rivals in the semifinals for the second straight year.
“It felt great to get the win against a strong Kellenberg team. Hopefully we can keep this momentum going and bring home a championship next week,” said Timothy Davis ’17.
Chaminade takes on the Friars of St. Anthony’s on Wednesday, November 4 at Adelphi University for the NSCHSAA Championship. Get out there and support your Flyers!