Chris Honan remembers exactly what happened to the Chaminade boys soccer team last season —- a heart-breaking one-goal loss in the CHSAA semifinals to eventual state champ St. Anthony’s.
"It’s always in the back of your mind," Honan said. "We knew tonight we had to be ready for the task at hand."
Chaminade was ready and so was Honan. The senior forward assisted on the Flyers’ first goal and scored two of his own as top-ranked Chaminade defeated No. 4 St. John the Baptist, 3-0, in a CHSAA semifinal at St. Anthony’s on Thursday night.
Chaminade (8-0) faces host St. Anthony’s — a 4-0 winner against Kellenberg in the first semifinal — at 5 p.m. Sunday in the CHSAA final.
Honan took a feed and turned with the ball before he found Charles Balsamo, who scored from 8 yards with 5:16 left in the first half for the game's first goal.
"It was anybody’s game before that," Chaminade coach Mike Gallagher said.
"It was a big stress relief for all of us," added Balsamo, who committed to Duke in October to play lacrosse. "After that, we played a little more calmly and we started to dominate."
Earlier, St. John the Baptist (4-4) had its best scoring chance with less than 17 minutes left in the first half. Chaminade goalie Matthew Canade (four saves) made an initial stop but couldn’t control the rebound. However, a Chaminade defender kept the second shot out of the back of the net.
Honan, who exhibited a great mix of speed and power throughout the contest, scored on a blast in the 70th minute just inside the far post to give the Flyers a two-goal cushion.
He was taken down just outside the box in the 87th minute and sent a screamer over the wall and into the upper-right corner to close the scoring for a tough Chaminade squad.
"The fact that we were able to go 14, 15, 16, even 17 deep, that’s a blessing," Gallagher said.
The long-time Chaminade coach cited the play of senior center-midfielder Joseph Zaldivar, who missed all of last season with an injury and was one of the Flyers’ team managers.
"He played about 45 minutes, and he was great," Gallagher said. "He worked so hard to get back on the field — he dropped 20 pounds — I’m really proud of him."
After the game, Gallagher’s brother, Nick — the St. John the Baptist coach — came over and talked about the game. The two shared a warm embrace and some good-natured teasing.
"This game isn’t about us," MIke Gallagher said before the game. "It’s about two great CHSAA schools."
Now the focus for Chaminade turns to St. Anthony’s.
"It doesn’t matter the sport, it’s a great rivalry," Balsamo said. "I got a taste of it in lacrosse, and the desire to play my best against [St. Anthony’s] burns inside me."