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St. Francis needs every second to finish off St. Joe’s

KEEPING POSSESSION — Nicholas Lenahan (left) and St. Francis have won consecutive overtime games. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
Time can be very valuable to sports teams and athletes. It came into play during St. Francis and junior soccer player Seth Snyder’s game Oct. 8 against rival St. Joe’s. The athlete said that he needed every second possible, during his team’s 2 – 1 double overtime victory.

“I just got a pass from Sam Eggleston and I said, ‘I’m about to shock the world,’” Snyder recalled.

According to coach Mike Smolinski, Eggleston definitely shocked St. Joe’s, all of his teammates and the coach himself.

“The referee was counting down from 10 seconds and we got a quick break. We had an open guy on the wing and we got it out to him ... and it was a great pass, broke it open and he actually hit that ball, when the referee said one,” said Smolinski, who added that he could not recall ever seeing anything like this happen before, during his 16 years of coaching.

With the score tied at 1 on a sloppy field, neither team could score in the first overtime and for most of the second, as it looked like the game was headed toward a draw. After a tie-up at midfield, Eggleston gained control of the ball inside the St. Joe’s zone and fed Snyder on the left wing, as he got behind the defense.

“I think, in the ruckus of it, with 10 seconds left, they lost me in the back because I was on the side,” Snyder said. “The pass was perfectly slotted ... [and I shot it] far right corner; that’s my money shot.”

St. Francis struck first in the game, as senior Aaron Hayes scored 10 minutes in, on a pass in front of the net from Eggleston, who assisted on both Red Raiders’ goals.

The Marauders scored 7 minutes later, when senior Andrew Lutley tied the game from a point-blank position, 20 feet out.

St. Francis received contributing play from junior goaltender Matt Gabalski, a third-year varsity player, who made several saves and took away many of St. Joe’s scoring chances. He made two saves, with 5 minutes left in regulation and in the first overtime.

“Matt Gabalski is the man back there,” Smolinski said. “He’s an amazing guy. He throws his body in front of everything.”

On a day in which the field was sloppy from overnight rain, composure and conditioning were two key components for St. Francis, Smolinski said, after the game. The Red Raiders had also beat St. Joe’s on Sept. 23, during a 1 – 0 game that also went into double overtime.

“We seem to pick a team every year,” Smolinski said. “Last year, it was Nichols; we played two overtime games with them. This year, it’s Joe’s. That’s how close our league is. We haven’t lost a league game by more than 1 or won by more than 1. It’s that tight.”

As if that game’s drama was not enough, the next time St. Francis hit the soccer field, it found itself in another overtime contest. Once again, the Red Raiders ended with a win, as Aaron Hayes was the latest hero, burying the feed from Eggleston to beat Orchard Park 2-1 on Monday in the MMAA-ECIC Challenge at Nichols. Michael Dhliwayo also scored, during the win.

St. Francis is now 8 – 8 overall and sits in third place of the four schools in the Monsignor Martin large schools league standings.
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