As soon as his team scored late in the second half, Chaminade defender John C. Murphy knew his work was just beginning.
“Once we scored, I knew there would be even more pressure,” Murphy said. “They were going to attack and send everyone they could.”
But Murphy and the Flyers’ back line stood tall and goalkeeper A.J. Rumfola made two huge saves as Chaminade defeated St. Anthony’s, 1-0, Saturday night at Adelphi’s Motamed Field to win the NSCHSAA boys soccer title for a third straight season.
Tim deMeij scored the game-winner in the 70th minute when he avoided a sliding tackle attempt by a Friars defender and scored just inside the near post for his 10th and most important goal of the season. “I saw a defender coming at me and I was able to cut by him,” deMeij said. “I didn’t have enough room to go far post.”
The Flyers improved to 15-4-1 and advanced to the state semifinal game on Friday against the Diocese of Buffalo winner at St. John’s University. The state final will be played next Sunday, also at St. John’s. St. Anthony’s, which hadn’t lost since its opening game against Fairfield (Conn.), and tied the Flyers twice in the regular season, finished 14-2-4.
“Those ties were a little heartbreaking,” said Rumfola, a junior who would have been the JV goalie last year, but missed the season due to injury. He made seven saves to earn the shutout, including two spectacular stops that robbed Aidan Wilson in the 55th minute on a kick save and an even more dramatic sprawling save on Mike Algieri’s low bullet in the 77th minute.
Algieri also hit the post just moments after deMeij’s goal. “I got a little lucky on that one,” Rumfola said.
He was under siege for much of the game as St. Anthony’s had more good scoring chances but could not finish. Rumfola made a leaping save on Jevon Burke’s blast from the right wing in the first half.
“Constant pressure,” is how Murphy, named the league’s MVP Saturday night after the game, described the Friars’ attack. “They had a lot of opportunities. If our back line wasn’t on its game, we would not have won. And A.J. has been on his game for the last couple of weeks.”
Rumfola said he got an emotional lift out of watching deMeiji’s goal and seeing the sideline celebrate, but like Murphy, he knew there was more work to do. “You just try to stay as calm as possible,” Rumfola said. “I had good position on those saves and there was a lot of adrenaline at work. When you’re up by a goal, those last 20 minutes are when you have to take control.”