Photos/Videos: Lennie Malmgren, Donna Eckert, James Williamson & Rachel Macauley
By: John Knebels
PHILADELPHIA – If there is one common fantasy among athletes, it involves being a major contributor on the last play of an important team victory.
St. Joseph’s Prep senior RJ Carlucci can tell you all about it.
With just 12 seconds remaining in a tense Catholic League double-overtime thriller between the Prep and Archbishop Ryan Sunday afternoon at the University of Pennsylvania, Carlucci scored the game-winner to give the Hawks a 1-0 victory.
While the forlorn Raiders walked away after having lost by one goal for the third time to the league’s top competition (3-2 to La Salle, 1-0 to Father Judge, 1-0 to the Prep) that dropped their record to a misleading 3-3, the Hawks celebrated raising their mark to 6-1.
“It is a great feeling to have such a huge goal against a great team,” said Carlucci. “I have had many big goals in games, but none has been celebrated this big. It was amazing.”
After both teams came close to breaking the tie at various junctures, the Hawks had one last rush. With the Prep crowd roaring in anticipation, Carlucci and senior teammate Julian Faust took over.
“We were running out of time and this was probably our last chance to score and win the game,” said Carlucci. “Julian trapped the ball off our goalie’s punt and started to dribble up the field. I made a run to collect the ball and the pass was on my back foot with a defender on me, so I had to flick the ball back to Julian to look for a give-and-go.
“He played the ball back to me and that’s when I was able to take a touch and shoot the ball on frame. The ball went into the top corner and it was a great team finish. When I scored, I turned around and saw my teammates rushing the field to congratulate me. We had a dog pile and it was an amazing feeling.”
Among the most relieved Hawks was junior goalie Coleman Monahan, who foiled several Ryan scoring chances.
“To be honest, when the final whistle blew at the end of regulation, I was shaking,” said Monahan. “But then after my first save, the nerves settled.
“We were constantly getting chances to score but we just could not finish. But when Julian started to move through the defense, I was thinking that the end might come right here, and when RJ got the ball in front of the net, I knew I was about to sprint the full field to join my team. It was an awesome feeling.”
With junior Ben Macleod, sophomore Pete Crespo, and senior Matt Bellew as defensive standouts, Roman Catholic forged a scoreless double overtime tie with Father Judge. Three days later, the Cahillites employed an offensive clinic in a 9-0 win over Bonner-Prendergast.
Junior goalie Donato Incollingo made three saves to notch his eighth shutout of the fall. Aforementioned captain Bellew amassed two goals and one assist. Senior captain Manny Garcia (goal, assist), senior captain Joey Lodise (two assists), junior John Swanson (one goal, one assist), and senior Ayden Dougherty (two goals) contributed multiple points. Senior JJ Carr celebrated his 18th birthday by scoring a goal.
“We played some really tight matches just prior to this where our offense was pretty much held in check,” said Roman Catholic coach Ray DeStephanis. “Some of the offensive-minded starters felt they needed to go out and get their collective motors started again. They played focused and shared the ball throughout the first half before letting some of the younger guys get some touches in the second half.”
Though pleased with his teammates’ collective effort, Lodise recognizes that the Cahillites face an arduous task as they penetrate the most difficult part of their schedule – tonight at 6-1 Archbishop Wood, Friday versus 6-1 St. Joseph’s Prep, and next Tuesday at 3-3 Archbishop Ryan.
“I think our team is working really hard at practice and on the field,” said Lodise. “I think defensively and offensively we found our stride. Judge was a great test to gauge how our team competes. We never give up.
“And we will not be overconfident in any PCL game. We will have to be at our best with the level of competition this year. We all have common goals and winning the PCL is our motivation.”
Father Judge is coming off two defensive gems – a double-overtime scoreless tie with Roman Catholic and a 1-0 victory over Archbishop Ryan. The game-winner against Ryan was scored by freshman Michael Regan and assisted by junior Hughie Nungesser with 30 minutes remaining in regulation.
With seven saves aided in particular by teammates Connor Bradby (senior), junior Sean McKenna, sophomore Dane Pizzaro, junior John Wood, and junior Albert Ramocki, senior goalie Bobby Mulvena earned the shutout.
“The defense fought hard for the victory,” said Judge coach John Dunlop, whose Crusaders still must play today at undefeated La Salle and a regular-season finale at the Prep on October 15. “We try to take away their offensive threats. I think we have been successful in doing that in the last two games.”
La Salle remains undefeated at 7-0 as it prepares to face visiting Father Judge this afternoon before finishing the regular season with trips to Lansdale Catholic, St. Joseph’s Prep, and Archbishop Carroll.
With the top five PCL teams only separated by a game and a half, the Explorers have not clinched anything yet.
“It’s definitely helpful knowing those teams are right on our tail,” said La Salle senior Jake Yuskevich. “It lets us know we can’t take our foot off the gas. Every game matters, and we can’t take a single one for granted. It’s important we continue to move forward one game at a time and do our best to not get complacent because these teams are right behind and they’re coming for us.”
Conwell-Egan blanked Archbishop Carroll, 4-0, before dropping a hard-fought 3-1 battle with Archbishop Wood.
At 3-5, the Eagles own sole possession of seventh place with three games left – a home game with Cardinal O’Hara and visits to Father Judge and Roman Catholic.
Against Carroll, goals were scored by senior Kevin McMenamin, freshman Dylan Kopenits, senior PJ Millard, and junior Bassam Ahmed. On defense, junior captain Dillon Farrell and sophomore Noah Kiesewetter controlled the back line, and sophomore goalie Anthony Conrey recorded his second whitewash of the season.
“I think after we scored our third goal, we locked down any opportunities for them to develop an attack,” said Egan coach Mike Rigney. “They also had a player receive a red card late in the second half, which forced them into a defensive set and allowed us to finish out the game. We definitely controlled play throughout the entirety of the game.”
Devon Prep is tied with Lansdale Catholic for eighth place and will visit the Crusaders on October 12. The seventh- and eighth-place finishers will receive a home game against the 10th and ninth-place squads in the first round of the playoffs while the top six enjoy a bye.
With senior Jack Freind, senior Chris Walton, and freshman Mike Pergolis tallying goals and junior Jack Ferry in the net, the Tide upended Cardinal O’Hara, 3-0, on Tuesday. The Tide is now 3-5 and will take on Bonner-Prendergast this afternoon.
“The win showed us what we are capable of when we work together as a team,” said Devon Prep coach Siafa Dempster. “Our senior captains Chris Walton and Deaglan Slattery led the game by example by scoring and defending well.”
Tag(s): Home Schools Philadelphia Catholic Soccer Boys Soccer Philadelphia Catholic League Arch. Carroll Boys Soccer Arch. Ryan Boys Soccer Arch. Wood Boys Soccer Bonner & Prendie Boys Soccer Cardinal O'Hara Boys Soccer Conwell-Egan Boys Soccer Father Judge Soccer La Salle Soccer Lansdale Cath. Boys Soccer Neumann/Goretti Boys Socce Roman Catholic Soccer Saint Joseph's Prep Soccer Devon Prep