On the spark of Luc Ware’s '18 flash to the goal, St. John's Varsity Boys' Soccer turned the table on Holland Hall for a 3-1 come from behind and win in the conference quarter-finals. St. John's followed up the day win with a Friday night semi-final victory over Kinkaid in penalty kicks to advance to the SPC Championship game against host Episcopal. In the finals against the Knights, after a late goal by Will Bickham '16, the Mavericks' rally came up short in a 3-1 loss for a SPC Runner-Up finish.
Similar to their first round SPC playoff game played on Thursday night against Casady, the Mavericks needed their opponent to score first in order to find the back of the net for themselves. Midway in the first half Holland Hall scored to make it 1-0 in favor of the Dutch going into the break. At the 27th minute in the second half Ware took a through ball and raced to goal only to be upended by a Holland Hall player inside the box. As a result, the Mavericks were awarded a penalty kick and teammate Lucas Tyler '18 set the ball on paint and did not hesitate bury the shot for the equalizer.
"I was so pumped I wanted to do whatever I could to help us win," said Ware. "That goal got us back in the game and we got really excited after that."
"I was really nervous but I knew exactly where to go with the shot, "said Tyler. "Nervous and confident."
Chris Randall '16 got credit for the go ahead goal three minutes later on his throw in that glanced off the keepers hand and crossed the goal plane. Ware put the third and final goal through open net with seven minutes remaining.
Early in the season the Mavericks lost close games by not being able to finish at the end. It was not until the burst of back-to-back goals against Casady on the night before that the Mavericks started to find their offensive power. Team defense has been their calling card with 10 ties on the season including four conference counter games, all of which helped them make the playoffs. The Mavericks are starting to discover a fortified balance in their team play with an old offense that has found a new gear.
“I think we gave up a bunch of goals at the end of our early season losses, and it built up frustration,” said Joe Faraguna ’16. “Now it has made us hungry to win.”
"Man, hard work and a never give up attitude is working for us," said Head Coach Ziad Allan. "I believe in this team."
“I just feel like our entire team is putting forth all of their effort,” said John Boom ’18. “We are really focused and we wanted it so bad we got it.”
Boom found himself in an unusual spot in the following semi-final game against Kinkaid when the ball was deflected to him from a throw-in by Chris Randall.
"I was trying to hit someone near the post and the ball ended up with Boom making the best shot I have ever seen him take," said Randall.
The Mavericks jumped out to an early first half lead off a half-volley at the top of the box from a rare John Boom '18 goal. Kinkaid tied it with 26:35 to go in the game, and both teams went scoreless in regulation and overtime. Lucas Tyler '18, Luc Ware '18, Chris Randall '16, and Owen Torczon '17 all scored their penalty shots and goal keeper Philip Kensinger '16 had a save to help advance the Mavericks to the SPC Championship game vs host Episcopal.
"It was incredible win and we were all tired coming off two previous games," said Max Bleckhman '17.
"What those kids have given in 24 hours is amazing," said Coach Allan.
Amazing is the new normal for these Mavericks as they find more wherewithal to win again.
In the finals the Mavericks got down 3-0 to Episcopal and rallied on a goal from Will Bickham '16 with 12 minutes to go. Several saves from Kensinger and a close shot by Joe Faraguna '16 kept the Mavericks in it until the final whistle sounded. Congratulations on a 2016 SPC Runner-Up finish.