TBy Oscar Matos ’18
The Varsity Flyers battled archrival St. Anthony’s on Wednesday, November 4 on Adelphi’s Motamed Field for the NSCHSAA title. The two teams had been on a collision course all season, surpassing their competition and entering the playoffs as the top two seeds, with Chaminade at first seed.
In the match’s early stages, neither team was able to gain much of an advantage over the other. Possession changed hands frequently, and both offenses squandered great opportunities to take an early lead. Each team’s goalie was put to the test early on but managed to avoid giving up early goals.
Eventually, St. Anthony’s began to take control of the game and dominated the time of possession. They took multiple shots on goal and seemed poised to run away with the match before the Flyers knew what had hit them; however, the Chaminade defense, anchored by goalkeeper Yanni Rigos ’17, held firm and responded to everything the Friars threw at them.
The tide soon shifted in the Flyers’ favor, and the offense, that had been stagnant for the majority of the first half, fell into a rhythm. They began making crisper, smarter passes and became more aggressive. While they weren’t able to score, they controlled the ball tremendously and did a great job of wearing down the St. Anthony’s defense.
Toward the end of the half, the Friars offense managed to string together a flurry of offensive attempts. Despite this, Rigos manned his position well and deflected the attacks. After St. Anthony’s missed a golden opportunity with 10 seconds to go in the half, the clock ran out. The teams went into the break deadlocked at 0, mirroring the finals of past years which came down to penalty kicks after a long tie.
On the team’s performance in the first half, Yanni Rigos ’17 said, “I felt like we had some good opportunities on offense, and the defense did their part as well. Playing against a talented team like St. Anthony’s is always a challenge and today was no exception.”
As play resumed after the half, the Flyers wasted little time going on the attack. With 20 seconds into the half, Matt Vowinkel ’17 fired a strike from outside the box between three defenders. The ball flew past the diving goalie and landed in the net. Vowinkel’s third goal of the 2015 postseason was also the most important, as it put the Flyers ahead by a score of 1-0.
Following this burst of action, the game seemed to settle down. Both teams appeared to settle into a rhythm and the ball changed hands frequently. Saint Anthony’s seemed to be gaining momentum as they began getting more comfortable on offense and took better shots against a stout Flyers’ defense. However, just when the Friars were on the brink of scoring, Chaminade picked up the intensity, making aggressive moves on defense and holding the ball for longer periods of time. They made smart, accurate passes and effectively kept the ball on the Friars’ side of the field.
As time ticked away on St. Anthony’s season, the Friars began playing with a profound sense of urgency. This aggressiveness led to them committing multiple fouls against Chaminade. These fouls led to many offensive opportunities for the Flyers, and while they did not manage to convert any of them, they helped to tire out St. Anthony’s and take large chunks of time off the clock. With the clock running down, the Flyers were able to keep the ball away from the Friars and clear the ball with ease. Time ran out, and the Chaminade bench rushed onto the field to celebrate defeating St. Anthony’s by a score of 1-0 to win their first outright NSCHSAA championship in five years.
“It feels pretty amazing. Matty [Vowinkel] hit one of the best shots I have seen in a long time. It wasn’t how we normally play. We played with a lot of emotion and very directly. I am just proud of the boys and what they did,” said Coach Michael Gallagher, the recipient of the Most Valuable Coach Award.
As the crowd settled, the Flyers received their NSCHSAA Championship plaque and individual awards. Matt Vowinkel was named Most Valuable Player and Coach Michael Gallagher received Most Valuable Coach. Leaving Motamed Field, the Flyers had a newfound confidence after winning the NSCHSAA Championship for the first time in years and earning a spot in the New York State Championships.