All was going to plan for Christian Brothers Academy's boys soccer team in last Saturday's state Class A semifinal against Byram Hills at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta.
The state no. 1-ranked Brothers had survived a taut, tense first half to get to the break 0-0. Then, early in the second half, CBA had gone in front, ready to assert its place in a championship game for the first time since 2000.
Yet when the final whistle blew, it was the Brothers that felt anguish- and the Section I champion Bobcats celebrating a 3-1 victory.
After 23 consecutive matches without a defeat, CBA took one because its normally stout defense broke down at the worst time possible.
Neither side broke through until the 63rd minute, when Gale Agbossoumonde scored an unassisted tally to give the Brothers a 1-0 advantage.
Agbossoumonde and the rest of the CBA forwards felt a need to take a larger role, since star striker L.J. Papaleo was still nursing a sore hamstring from an injury suffered in the Nov. 10 Class A regional final win over Beekmantown.
As they worked, Ben Ashenburg, Pat Kenville, Justin White and the rest of CBA's back line did an effective job for much of the game frustrating Byram Hills, but they found themselves doing more work as time became an issue.
All that work began to dissolve when, in the 65th minute, the Bobcats drew a corner kick. Steve Paresi took it, and hit a curling drive that sailed over goalie Joe Krisch's head, hit the line, then spun over it into the net.
Fired up by getting even 1-1, Byram Hills put on more pressure and drew another corner kick just two minutes later. Paresi floated it this time, right to fellow forward Matt Poulton, whose well-placed header eluded Krisch and put the Bobcats in front 2-1.