By Dan Martin
The CHSAA Class A boys’ soccer championship game looked a lot like this season’s first two meetings between St. Joseph’s by the Sea and Monsignor McClancy.
The regular season produced two scoreless ties in 160 minutes of soccer. The next 100 still didn’t see a goal and forced the game to be decided on penalty kicks. McClancy junior Sebastian Castano, finally in position to produce a winner, needed to convert a penalty kick.
He nailed it.
His shot struck the back of the net to give McClancy a 4-2 victory in penalty kicks and its second straight city title Sunday afternoon at St. John’s University’s Belson Stadium.
“We were pretty hyped up, but we didn’t want to take it to penalties,” Castano said. “I was so nervous, I didn’t know what to expect.”
McClancy (15-1-3) led penalties 1-0 after the first round, when junior Michael Ferrara buried a shot into the upper right corner of the goal. After a second straight miss by St. Joseph’s by the Sea (15-2-2), McClancy’s George Alissandratos’ penalty kick snuck inside the right post for a 2-0 lead. The teams matched each other with two more goals each as James Linehan scored for McClancy to set up Castano for the win.
“In penalties we just told them to relax and have fun,” McClancy Coach Mike Sylvester said “We did all we could on the field, but I told them to pick a shot and hit it square, and it worked out for us.”
His squad had the best chance in regulation. Mike Ferrera’s 35-yard shot deflected off the crossbar after Sea keeper John Gioeli made a leaping save. Sylvester credited the Vikings defense for making his team’s life difficult.
“We had a couple chances in regulation and that got us going for a while,” he said. “But overall they did a really good job in the back, so our opportunities were limited.”
For Sylvester, this McClancy team, built on defense, has been one that will remain with him for a time to come. The Crusaders finished the season with just one loss, going 12-1-3. The win over St. Joseph by the Sea was the exclamation point on the season.
“They’re a real special group,” Sylvester said. “Since the beginning of the season, we told them we have the one thing they have to do is focus. Our goal was to get in here and win it, and whenever we asked them to do something, they did it. They were rewarded today.”