For Chaminade’s Yanni Rigos, the pressure never abated.
Overtime against Kellenberg. Overtime against St. Anthony’s. Overtime against Fordham Prep. Three consecutive soccer playoff games went beyond regulation, one bad bounce capable of curtailing the Flyers’ soccer season.
“Every time I came off the field at the end of regulation,” the Flyers’ goalkeeper said, “I came up to my goalie coach and I would just say, ‘I’m sick to my stomach right now. I don’t want to go through this.’ ”
For Matt Vowinkel, the experience was “painful but exciting.”
“By the end of it, I was saying to myself, ‘Oh, man. I hate overtime. I don’t want to do it again,’ ” the senior forward said.
But the emotional swings were a small price to pay for accomplishing the ultimate goal: a second straight CHSAA state title.
After needing overtime heroics in each of their first three playoff games, the Flyers coasted to a 6-0 win over Buffalo Canisius for their sixth state championship. A year earlier, they had scored five times for their fifth state title.
“Now that I look back at it,” Rigos said, “it’s kind of special to see that we were able to get through all of that and come out with another championship.”
To accomplish that, the Flyers received an elevated level of play from their star and timely contributions from role players.
Vowinkel, Newsday’s 2015 and 2016 Long Island Player of the Year, entered this season with high individual expectations. He had 24 goals and five assists in 2015, en route to winning the Gatorade New York Player of the Year. But when the 2016 playoffs arrived, he sat at 10 goals and seven assists.
Coach Mike Gallagher said teams were double- and triple-teaming Vowinkel up top, so he moved center back Andrea Codispoti to attacking midfield to distract defenses.
“We’re a different team with [Codispoti] in the back, but we were trying to get Matt free,” Gallagher said. “How do you get Matt free? Well you’ve got to pay attention to [Codispoti]. He’s very creative and he’s good one versus one.”
Vowinkel responded by scoring two goals, including the winner, and assisting on another in the 3-2 victory over Kellenberg. He scored both goals in Chaminade’s 2-1 victory over St. Anthony’s, and added another in a 2-1 win over Fordham Prep.
In the championship, he had three goals and two assists.
“Who scores three goals in a final?” Gallagher asked rhetorically. “It was amazing.”
So were the contributions from the rest of the lineup, particularly Jack Nuttall, John Murphy, Tim Davis and Jack Graziano. Those four provided no shortage of key plays.
Said Rigos, “I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys to do it with for these past few years.”
Road to the championship
Kellenberg, 3-2 OT
St. Anthony’s, 2-1 OT
Fordham Prep, 2-1 OT
Buffalo Canisius, 6-0