The match had all the ingredients of a draw after nearly 90 minutes of boys soccer action.
Chaminade and St. Anthony’s traded scoring chances — some capitalized, some met with jaw-dropping saves and some just inches away from a goal. Both teams played physically, made key defensive stops and created runs to generate scoring opportunities.
But it was Chaminade’s final run to the net that decided the game’s final result. Jack Keys made a tough run down the right side of the field, dribbled past multiple defenders and found just enough room for a cross to Matt Auerbach in front of the net. Auerbach scored with 2:39 remaining in the second half as Chaminade defeated host St. Anthony’s, 3-2, in CHSAA boys soccer action Tuesday evening.
"Honestly, at one point, it was kind of a blur," Auerbach said. "Seeing the ball come across, I knew [the shot] was either going in or it was going over, so it was kind of funny, but after seeing it go in, that was definitely a sigh of relief."
Keys saw Auerbach run more than 50 yards to get to the net for one last scoring opportunity. And Keys was determined to find the team captain.
"I saw Matt making a dart run in the box and he’s my guy," Keys said. "I trust him, played the ball in and that was that."
And although this was technically just another regular season game, it was more than that for the Flyers. Chaminade (3-0) saw their streak of four straight state and league titles snapped last season after a 1-0 loss to St. Anthony’s in the semifinals. The Flyers couldn’t wait for their chance at some redemption.
"We’ve been counting down the days since last year," Auerbach said. "We couldn’t wait for another opportunity to get back at them for what they took from us, so it was definitely great to get the chance here today."
Although St. Anthony’s (2-1-1) struck first with a goal from Sean Louis with 35:50 remaining in the first half, Chaminade goalkeeper Matt Canade made multiple diving and point-blank saves to prevent the Friars extending their lead. Canade insisted he was just doing his job, but admitted some of those saves jolted him up. Coach Michael Gallagher said Canade "made the saves he should have, and some he shouldn’t have."
"It’s always exhilarating making those saves, having the team and that pressure on me and knowing as soon as I make that save, the pressure’s off," said Canade, who finished with eight saves. "I feel comfortable and it’s just an amazing feeling."
Chaminade answered with the next two goals — both coming off assists from Francesco Pavano. The junior found Jack Flaherty, who headed in a corner kick with 18:51 remaining in the first half to tie the score at one. Later, Pavano showed off his dribbling skills and created separation before finding Jack Doherty, who scored from 15 yards out to give Chaminade a 2-1 lead with 10:47 left in the opening half.
St. Anthony’s continued putting pressure on Chaminade and answered with a goal from Rohan Douglas following a cross and a scramble in the 18-yard box with 39:19 remaining the second half to tie the score at 2.
"They beat us last year, took the trophy away, so this was a big game for us," Flaherty said. "We wanted to beat them on their field and we still got the playoffs to go, so we’ll see them again."
Even without fans in the stand because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the match’s intensity was evident. And for Chaminade, leaving with a victory was the only positive outcome and Auerbach didn’t want his chance to slip away.
"It was great to do that, especially in this game," he said. "A lot of us worked hard during this game and I had to repay all my teammates that put every ounce of their blood, sweat and tears into this game. I needed to repay them for that."