Benjamin Szemerenyi had a vision of what might transpire if he scored the golden goal for Chaminade in the CHSAA state final, but he never believed it could happen. On Sunday at St. John’s University’s Belson Stadium, Szemerenyi’s vision became reality.
With just over six minutes remaining in the first 10-minute overtime, Chaminade forced a corner kick. Szemerenyi walked to the corner flag on the far side of the field, swung his right foot and watched the ball deflect off the hand of the goalkeeper for the winning goal.
Szemerenyi’s score gave Chaminade a 2-1 victory over Regis (Manhattan) and its third consecutive state soccer title.
“I was thinking at home before the game, ‘What would I do if I get the chance to score the golden goal,’ ” Szemerenyi said. “I pictured that I would run around and take my shirt off because that is what you see on TV.”
And that was exactly was Szmerenyi did. The junior forward ran across the field, took off his jersey and waved it in windmill-like fashion.
“I knew we had the wind with us, and whenever I take a corner I always try and get some whip and some curve on the ball to make it difficult on the goalie,” Szemerenyi said. “Luckily, the wind took it and it went straight through.”
Chaminade (17-5-2) opened the scoring with 17:35 left in the first half, when Kevin Lynch capitalized on a defensive miscue and slotted home the goal. Regis tied it eight minutes into the second half, when Liam Nicholson headed in a Gearoid Kennedy cross. A minute later, Flyers keeper Colin Lawless (five saves) came up huge, making a diving save in front of the goal to keep the score tied.
“When they scored, it was definitely a shock,” Szemerenyi said. “They had the momentum for about 10 minutes after that, but we just had to regroup defensively and stick to what we were doing in the first half.”
Before the overtime, Lynch gave his teammates a strong message. “I told the boys that you have to want to win more than you want to breathe,” Lynch said. “I really think that struck with them.”
Not too many players can say they won three consecutive state titles in high school, but with the help of his teammates, Lynch accomplished just that.
“We have such a great group of guys, I love them to death,” Lynch said. “It’s incredible to win three state championships in three straight years, and just the way Ben did it with the overtime goal, it could not have ended any better.”