Spartans fall in SCC battle with Montini
By Anthony Zilis
St. Francis controlled the flow of play for a majority of Saturday's game against Montini, but that wasn't enough in a 2-1 loss.
The Spartans, who graduated 13 seniors from last season, have seen themselves grow throughout the season, and their possession game has improved from match to match. But after a goal from Ian Hart gave them an early lead, a penalty kick and a controversial goal from Montini gave St. Francis their first loss in three games.
“It was a disappointing one,” junior Jose Zepeda said. “We had a lot of chances, we just couldn't capitalize on the chances that we had, but I'm proud of how we played for the majority of the game. They got a lucky second goal, and that PK just killed us.”
While the Spartans had more chances throughout the first half, Montini had the first legitimate opportunity when St. Francis goalkeeper John Burke saved an attempt from a tough angle from Montini senior Andrew Klysh.
In the 13th minute, a corner kick from Jose Zepeda bounced through to Ian Hart, who hammered a shot inside the near post to give the Spartans the upper hand.
With just less than 24 minutes left in the half, St. Francis junior Brian Cochrane played a long ball through to sophomore Nick Roehl, whose shot banged off the near post. The rebound bounced to Joe Wood, but his shot was saved.
With just over 14 minutes left in the first half, Montini forward Jimmy Clausing was taken down in the penalty area, and Clausing hit his penalty kick into the lower corner to make the score 1-1.
The Spartans controlled the flow of play for most of the half, and Joe Wood's cross found Joe Pagliuco with 12:50 left in the half.
St. Francis senior Michael Downs had a crack at goal three minutes into the second half, but his shot from the corner of the penalty area was saved.
Two minutes later, Ian Hart played a through ball into the box for Zach Bess, but a Montini defender was able to clear the ball for a St. Francis corner.
With St. Francis pushed forward after the ensuing corner, Clausing collected a long ball and broke free on a breakaway before scoring to give Montini a 2-1 lead with 34:29 remaining.
St. Francis coach Kristin Keigley didn't think the goal should have stood.
“He was offsides,” Keigley said. “It's hard to defend that when a player is in an offsides position.”
The Spartans almost found the equalizer when a long ball from Zepeda found Zach Bess in the penalty area with just under 23 minutes left, but after Bess tipped the ball past the keeper, he lost his footing and wasn't able to regain possession before the goalkeeper recovered.
Montini could have added some insurance with 10 minutes left, but Tom McGillicuddy's shot from the edge of the penalty area hit the cross bar.
Sophomore Keenan Corrigan's header off of a corner kick cross could have leveled the score, but a Montini defender cleared it off the line with about seven minutes left.
The Spartans were able to control much of the game, and to Hart, that showed improvement.
“I thought we moved the ball better than we have before in other games,” Hart said. “Just moments are what turned the game.”
But Keigley didn't think the Spartans moved the ball well enough, and that's been her
young team's struggle all season.
“They gave us plenty of space to take, and they gave us plenty of time to develop, yet we decided to play one-touch, boot the ball type of play instead of developing out of the back,” Keigley said. “We have a very young team that is learning to play together. Over half of our team has never really played as a unit on the varsity squad. It's a lot of learning and a lot of developing and a lot of young mistakes.”