Up until Tuesday night, the Jamesville-DeWitt boys soccer team's 2007 season had been marked by inconsistency or, at the very least, massive struggles to put the ball in the net.
All those negative feelings dissipated, though, when the Red Rams marched into Alibrandi Stadium and stunned its biggest OHSL Freedom division rival, Christian Brothers Academy, in a 1-0 decision. It was the first time all season that any league opponent had shut CBA out.
J-D arrived here with a 5-7-1 record and was coming off a 3-2 loss to Fowler. The Brothers had little reason to fear this game, for it had trounced the Rams 4-0 in their previous meeting on Sept. 18, a game where L.J. Papaleo had a hat trick before halftime.
Thus, CBA, who entered with an 11-1-1 mark, did the most dangerous thing possible -- that is, bring something less than its best effort against an opponent that was playing with palpable urgency.
From the start, the Red Rams' defense was in top form, clogging up the lanes and draping itself over Papaleo to keep him from the kinds of chances he had enjoyed all season.
Max Bobyricki, Brad Gilbeaux, John Clark, Jesse Evensky and the rest of J-D's back line had its most inspired effort of the season, and goalkeeper Mac Keefus turned away all eight shots he had to face.
Now all the Rams needed to do was get a goal of its own. For nearly 70 minutes, that proved elusive, even though CBA was using Heath Ferris (who, like Keefus, made eight saves) in the net in place of Tim Oot.
But with 11 minutes left, J-D's exciting eighth-grader, Emmanuel Collins, broke free, took a pass from Zander El-Hindi and slipped a shot past Ferris into the net, and that proved to be the only goal of the night.
In a single night, the Rams had managed to transform a ragged season into something with far more potential. Now, the trick is to maintain that top form in Thursday's game against Mexico as the Brothers try to bounce back at Cortland.