The boys soccer team was looking to continue their Cinderella run through the D2 Soccer DIAA Tournament on Wednesday. Less than two weeks ago, the team felt good about their chances but there was still a lot of uncertainty if they would even be playing in the tournament. They made it, but as the last team in as the 12-seed. The road to the final was going to be difficult but the team took on the mantra of “one match at a time.”
In their first round match against Delaware Military Academy, the Saints faced their recurring nightmare from the past ten years, the cursed PK shootout. The Saints broke the curse and moved on to play in the quarterfinals where they would face a rested Wilmington Friends School coming off a first round bye. The Saints pulled the upset and stunned WFS, 1-0, for a date in the semifinals with Newark Charter School.
Newark Charter School was similar to the Saints, they had been the lower seed in both their matches and had shocked the 1-seed (Saint Mark’s) in their quarterfinal match. Both teams were looking to continue their dream run on Wednesday night under the lights. Kickoff was a little after 8:00pm and after what had been a warm November Delaware afternoon, temperatures began to drop quickly. The turf was slick, which meant the ball would skip more and be harder for players to make cuts without slipping. To add to the mystique of the match, a low, small patch of fog hovered over the field, moving back and forth from each half of the field, almost as if it was following the action.
For the first five minutes, nerves were running high, as both teams struggled to control the ball. Finally the Saints settled in and crossed the ball into the box 10 minutes into the game. Newark Charter failed to clear the ball, and Jared Horgan ’22 took a one-timer that found the bottom right of the back of the net. The Saints were up 1-0 early. From there the Saints held possession for the first half and into the second half. When the Patriots did gain possession, they would create quick runs, but each time they were thwarted by the defense of Jake Kelly ’22, Ned Read ’22, Crawford Seeley ’22, and Talan Esposito ’24. He was only tested a handful of times, but each time Emmanual Appenteng ’23 made an incredible save to keep the Saint in the lead. With 19 minutes left in the match, Isaac Lawrence ’23 weaved his way through three defenders in the Patriots box and was tripped to earn a penalty shot for the Saints. Lawrence was itching to take the shot, but Coach Carroll called for the Saints leading goal scorer Tony Wang ’22 to take the shot. In a move that sums up how this team is playing together, Lawrence gave a thumbs up, gave Wang a high five, and stepped to the side. Wang approached the ball to try and extend the lead. He put it right past the keeper. The 200 plus students in the stands erupted, most of the team sprinted towards them, but Wang found Lawrence and embraced in a big hug.
The next 18 minutes slowly ticked away, and the Patriots almost converted on a breakaway when the ball was able to get past Appenteng but went just wide of the net. From there the Saints controlled the ball and when the final whistle blew, the entire team sprinted to their fans. The scene was euphoric, players were hugging each other and their friends in the stands. The Saints were moving onto the state finals!
After the match Coach Carroll addressed the team. “You deserve it, you’ve earned it, and now you have to go take it.” He added, “We’re now at a point where anything can happen.” The Saints will take on the 2-seed Caravel Academy at Dover High School on Saturday (11/20) at 1:00pm for the championship.