Nov 14, 2006 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
After another shot of turbulence in the middle, the Christian Brothers Academy boys soccer team punched its ticket for the state Class A final four.
The Brothers earned its trip to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta by beating Section VII champion Beekmantown 4-1 last Friday night at West Genesee High School.
This is CBA’s first trip to the semifinals since 2000, when it got to the state Class B title game at Liverpool before falling to Rochester Aquinas.
Just to get to Beekmantown, the Brothers had to endure a harrowing regional battle with Section II champion Burnt Hills/Ballston Lake last Wednesday night at Chittenango, pulling out a 1-0 victory over the Spartans.
Stymied for much of the night by Burnt Hills goalie Jared Schreiner, CBA finally broke the stalemate when L.J. Papaleo scored on a shot that nicked off a Burnt Hills defender with 3:10 left in regulation.
“Tonight we had to meet their intensity,” said head coach Joe Papaleo. “And we did. The guys worked so hard for this one.”
What helped, of course, was that the Brothers had four days to rest after its Nov. 3 win over Fulton in the Section III Class A final.
By contrast, Burnt Hills had played just two nights before in its sectional final. Still, while it had a 14-8 record, those losses came to Class AA teams in a tough league.
“They had seen teams like us and were ready for us,” said Joe Papaleo.
The rest gave time for L.J. Papaleo to recover from the ankle injury he suffered in the game against Fulton. He didn’t start, but after entering the contest midway through the first half, he went full speed.
So did the rest of the Brothers, who spent much of the game in full attack mode, finding constant frustration.
Schreiner was responsible for most of that frustration, accumulating 12 saves. He stopped every kind of shot, from point-blank looks to hard free kicks from Papaleo and Gale Agbossoumonde.
Just when the game looked to be bound for overtime, though, Papaleo got free in the middle, took a hard shot, then watched it nick off a Burnt Hills defender and fly into the left side of the net. It would prove to be enough.
None of that kind of late-game stress was needed against Beekmantown two nights later, but a different kind of problem would be ecountered.
First, though, CBA had to take care of the result. It started to do so 7:37 into the game, when Papaleo headed in Mawuena Agbossoumonde’s perfect corner kick.
Though it would enjoy most of the scoring opportunities, the Brothers still had to be aware of Beekmantown’s fast group of forwards, who would often venture into CBA’s end in a counter-attacking mode.
Handling that, the Brothers thought it was pulling clear in the 53rd minute, when Gale took advantage of a perfect bounce off the turf and headed it past Eagle goalie Matt LaMora.
Beekmantown wasn’t done though, as with 14:53 left, it pulled back to 2-1 when Joe Krisch could not handle Colin Cummings’ hard free kick, and Adam Roberts put home the rebound.
Instead of laying back, the Brothers went right back to its strength in the front line. A nice series of passes set up Papaleo in the middle, and the junior earned his second goal of the night.
Down 3-1, the frustrated Eagles began fouling at will, drawing yellow cards. Sensing that his stars might be in danger, Joe Papaleo took out his son and both Agbossoumonde brothers to prevent them from getting hurt. Ben Ashenburg would add another goal in the final minute.
Now CBA (21-0-1) could look ahead to its trip to Oneonta. On Saturday at 10:30 a.m., the Brothers meet Section I power Byram Hills (21-1) in the semifinal round, and the winner will go to Sunday’s title game at 11:40 a.m. Ironically, Aquinas could be the opponent, if it gets through a semifinal against Islip.