Youth soccer: St. Mary ends St. Michael’s CYO title streak
By Anthony D. Alonzo Post-Tribune correspondent November 16, 2013 11:30PM
Updated: December 18, 2013 6:58AM
Two victorious Catholic Youth Organization soccer teams rode a wave of momentum to claim titles in the league’s recent tournament hosted at St. Paul School in Valparaiso.
On Oct. 27, four teams competed in mild conditions under sunny skies maintaining close games that would eventually produce fifth-, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade champions. As such, the co-ed soccer competition featuring Northwest Indiana parochial schools would leave only half of the players with storybook endings.
In the seventh- and eighth-grade CYO championship game, St. Michael School carried its 7-0-1 regular season record and four straight tournament wins into the final match with St. Mary School of Griffith, a squad that had only lost one game this season. That loss, a 3-2 defeat in the third game of the season, came against the Warriors.
The Wildcats roared into action and caused the Warriors to have to swarm to protect their goal in the opening minutes of the game. However, less than five minutes into the match, St. Mary Will Carrol, a seventh-grader, walked the ball into the goal.
St. Mike hunkered down to force a mainly defensive struggle that broke just before the 20-minute mark when the Schererville team’s James Egnatz tied it up 1-1 with his goal.
Less than 10 minutes into the second half, Brian Tazik’s chip shot from the left side put the Wildcats up 2-1. Five minutes later, Egnatz launched a penalty kick on a hand-ball call to tie the game at 2-2.
Another hand ball sealed the deal. On the ensuing kick, Tazik’s kick was met by a perfectly timed header by St. Mary’s Luke Reid that snuck past the Warriors’ goalie.
The Wildcats gathered in the middle of the field for a spirited celebration as time expired. Then they reflected on their season with modesty in their voices.
“I think that everybody played well and they passed the ball, doing a very good job of getting it into the goal (area) and me getting the header for the game winner,” said Reid, an eighth grader.
“Friday (before the tournament) was the first practice where we had the entire team there,” said St. Mary coach Bill Fuehrmeyer. “We had a lot of players that played travel soccer and fall baseball and other sports so we don’t make them commit just to (CYO) soccer.”
St. Mike coaches told their players they had nothing to be ashamed of and that they should claim their second-place trophy with a sense of pride.
“It’s not what we hoped for,” said eighth-grader Egnatz, holding back tears. “We won three (titles) in a row.”
Along with her assistants, parent Karyn Gallas, whose son Kamren is an eighth-grade player, coached the Warriors for four years.
“They played well all year with a tremendous amount of adversity,” Gallas said of the multiple injuries that decimated her core defenders. “They’ve been working hard all year.”
In the fifth and sixth grade championship game, Nativity of Our Savior School edged out host St. Paul 2-1.
The Portage team saw goals from Vicente Pacheco — a short kick in the first half — and Miguel Verduzco — with a long kick from the center circle with 2:00 remaining. St. Paul got on the board with a score by Garrett Mroz.
The Stars had lost to St. Paul three times before their championship run. Miguel’s dad, assistant coach Miguel Verduzco, said his team was able eke out a win because of its balance.
“Although we’ve got three big legs, the (players) have learned to not just rely on those three or four people at a time,” coach Verduzco said. “I think it’s about them playing their roles and trusting that their teammates are going to be there to do their job.”