It was a whiteout for Friday Night Football–but not in the American, conventional sense. Rather, the JP students donned white apparel and poured onto the hill to watch their Wolves soccer squad host the first ever playoff game in John Paul the Great history. Their matchup against the Christchurch Seahorses also marked the first time JP’s soccer team ever reached the state playoffs.
Both Christchurch and JP came out strong with neither team dominating the start of the game. Both defenses were quick to alleviate any opposing threats, and halftime came with no score.
The second half started off the same way, but soon the offenses had their chances. A few minutes in, Josh Cox unleashed a devastating shot to the upper left corner of the goal, but Christchurch’s goalie leapt and made a gorgeous save, deflecting the ball with his outstretched hand.
A short time later, the Seahorses marched down and had a chance to score off a throw-in near JP’s goal. The ball was tossed into a scrum of players in front of the net, and Ryan Goerl was there to head the ball away from the danger. The defense survived.
The half ended with the score still knotted at zero. Two five-minute overtime periods followed.
Overtime saw even more intensity, and the defenses still prevailed. With just a few minutes remaining in the second period, Kevin Villagomez stopped a Christchurch drive with a spectacular diving header, giving JP a final chance to score. But overtime ended without a goal.
The pressure was on for both squads as the game would be decided by penalty kicks–five shots for each team.
After Chirstchurch’s first kicker put one in, Nyakeh Braima came through for the Wolves, tying it at 1. The two teams traded goals twice more, with Pernell Adgei and Josh Cox coming through for JP.
But in the fourth round of shots, goalie Patrick Frick stopped the Chirstchurch shooter, diving to his right to make the save. Max Gelbach came up hoping to give JP the advantage. But the Seahorse goalie had other plans, diving to block the hard shot from Gelbach.
Christchurch’s goalie was the final shooter for the seahorses, and put one past Frick off the left post. The pressure was on for Tyler Goerl, who was looking to tie the score and force another round. But Goerl’s shot was just long as it sailed over the crossbar.
The PK-defeat was a heartbreaking end to JP’s otherwise-spectacular season. The teams met for a post-game handshake, and the JP boys then turned towards the fans, acknowledging their support.
“It was an amazing season, but a tough way to go,” senior Ian Wode said after the game.
Patrick Gelbach continued the sentiment, “I couldn’t have asked for better teammates and coaches to spend my last season with.”
Great season, soccer studs! Thanks for all your hard work, and helping to make a name for our school sports!