When two competitors are so evenly matched, one lucky bounce can be the difference between a gold and a silver.
And this was certainly the case between St. Andrew’s College (SAC) and Toronto’s St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) in a fierce soccer match last month. The two were competing for the Canadian Independent School’s Athletic Association soccer championship that would eventually take them to double overtime.
It was a cold blustery day, as the Saints and the Kerry Blues took to the Yuill Family Athletic field. The boys were eager to recapture their championship title, which they lost last year to Upper Canada College. It didn’t take long to realize that this game would be intense and exciting, as both teams went back and forth through the first half.
SMCS missed an excellent chance to take the lead when the crossbar rescued Aurora resident and Saints’ goalkeeper, David Browne, 17. The boys acquitted themselves well in the first 45-minutes but couldn’t make the breakthrough they needed.
The second half started with a renewed sense of confidence. The Saints attacked repeatedly, pinning SMCS in their end and breaking up potential counter-attacks with resolute defending. Browne kept the score knotted at zero with some astounding saves. The Saints pushed the pace of the game and had SMCS on the ropes. Good wing play kept the opposition on their heels. At the end of 90 minutes, the score remained tied at nil and two 15-minute sudden-death extra-time periods beckoned.
The first extra-time period began in much the same manner as the second half of the game; the Saints pressed for the winner and were kept at bay by strong SMCS defending. The prospect of penalty shots loomed over both teams as the second extra-time period started.
Mark Mackey, a grade 12 boarding student from Newfoundland, chased a ball forward and forced the SMCS goalkeeper into an awkward clearance, which rebounded off Mackey and into the net.
Fans rushed the field to congratulate the winners. It was an unexpected way for such an evenly-matched game to end, but the Saints prevailed.
The Saints’ season record stood at 11 wins, five losses. Over the past four years, they have amassed three championship titles. The boys have had the opportunity to showcase their exceptional skill and team work at national and league championships throughout North American.
Story by Nicholas Day, Varsity Soccer Coach, St. Andrew's College